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The Emperor Marcus Aurelius 












Copyright, 1909 
By p. F. Coloer & Son 

manufactured in u. s. a. 


Socrates, the son of an Athenian sculptor, was horn in 469 
B. C. He was trained in his father's art, but gave it up early to 
devote his time to the search for truth and virtue. He took his 
part as a citizen both in war and in peace, and bore the hardships 
of poverty and u shrewish wife with calm indifference. He did 
not give formal instruction after the fashion of other philoso- 
phers of his time, but went about engaging people in conversa- 
tion, seeking, chiefly by questions, to induce his contemporaries, 
and especially the young men, to think clearly and to act reason- 
ably. He made profession of no knowledge except of His ozun 
ignorance, and the famous "Socratic irony" was shown in his at- 
titude of apparent willingness to learn from anyone who professed 
to know. The inevitable result of such conversations, however, 
was the reduction of the would-be instructor to a state either of ■ 
irritation at the unmasking of his pretensions, or of humility 
and eagerness to be instructed by his questioner. It was natural 
that such a habit should create enemies, and Socrates was finally 
accused of introducing new gods and of corrupting the youth. 
His defense, as will be seen from the "Apology," was conducted 
with his customary firm adherence to his convictions, and with 
entire fearlessness of consequences. He could, in all probability, 
have easily escaped the death sentence had he been willing to 
take a conciliatory tone, but he died (B. C. 399) a martyr to his 
unswerving devotion to truth. Socrates wrote nothing, and we 
learn what we know of his teachings chiefly from his disciples, 
Xenophon and Plato. 

Plato was also an Athenian, horn in 428 B. C. of a distinguished 
family. He became a disciple of Socrates at the age of twenty, 
and after the death of his master he traveled in Egypt, Sicily, 
and elsewhere, returning to Athens about 388. Here he estab- 
lished his school of philosophy in a garden near a gymnasium, 
called the Academy, and here he spent the last forty years of his 
life, numbering among his pupils his great rival in philosophical 
renown, Aristotle. Unlike Socrates, Plato took no part in the 
civic life of Athens, but he was much interested in political phi- 
losophy, and is said to have been consulted by statesmen both at 
home and abroad. 

Hc — ^Vol. % 


All the zvorks of Plato have been preserved, and they include^ 
besides those here printed, the "Republic*' *' Symposium,'" "Phae- 
drus^^ '^'Protagoras," ^'Theaetetus," "Gorgi'as,^* and many others. 
They take the form of dialogues, in which Plato himself appears, 
if at all, only as a listener, and in which the chief speaker is 
Socrates. As Plato developed the philosophy of Socrates, es- 
pecially on speculative lines, far beyond the point reached by 
Socrates himself, it is impossible to judge with any exactness 
precisely how much of the teaching is the master^s, how much 
the pupil's. 

The philosophy of these dialogues has remained for over two 
thousand years one of the great intellectual influences of the civ- 
ilised world; and they are as admirable from the point of view 
of literature as of philosophy. The style is not only beautiful in 
itself, but is adapted with great dramatic skill to the large variety 
of speakers; and the suggestion of situation and the drawing of 
character are the work of a great artist. The three dialogues 
here given are at once favorable examples of the literary skill of 
Plato and intim.ate pictures of the personality of his master. 

Planfied and Destined 
at The Collier Press 
£y Williayn Patien 

'OW you have felt, O men of Athens, at hearing the 
speeches of my accusers, I cannot tell; but I 
know that their persuasive v/ords almost made 
me forget who I was, such was the effect of them; and yet 
they have hardly spoken a word of truth. But many as 
their falsehoods were, there was one of them which quite 
amiazed me: I miean when they told you to be upon your 
guard, and not to let yourself be deceived by the force of my 
eloquence. They ought to have been ashamed of saying 
this, because they were sure to be detected as soon as I opened 
my lips and displayed my deficiency; they certainly did ap- 
pear to be most shameless in saying this, unless by the force 
of eloquence they mean the force of truth: for then I do 
indeed admit that I am eloquent. But in how different a 
way from theirs! Well, as I was saying, they have hardly 
uttered a word, or not more than a word, of truth ; but you 
shall hear from m^e the whole truth: not, however, delivered 
after their m.anner, in a set oration duly ornamented >. with 
words and phrases. No, indeed! but I shall use the words 
and arguments which occur to me at the moment; for T 
am certain that this is right, and that at my time of life I 
ought not to be appearing before you, O men of Athens, in 
the character of a juvenile orator: let no one expect this 
of me. And I must beg of you to grant me one favor, 
which is this — if you hear me using the same words in my 
defence which I have been in the habit of using, and which 
most of you may have heard in the agora, and at the tables of 
the money-changers, or anywhere else, I would ask you not 
to be surprised at this, and not to interrupt me. For I am 
more than seventy years of age, and this is the first time 



that I have ever appeared in a court of law, and I am quite 
a stranger to the ways of the place; and therefore I would 
have you regard me as if I were really a stranger, whom 
you would excuse if he spoke in his native tongue, and 
after the fashion of his country : that I think is not an unfair 
request. Never mind the manner, which may or may not 
be good; but think only of the justice of my cause, and 
give heed to that: let the judge decide justly and the speaker 
speak truly. 

And first, I have to reply to the older charges and to 
my first accusers, and then I will go to the later ones. 
For I have had many accusers, who accused me of old, and 
their false charges have continued during many years; and 
I am. more afraid of them than of Anytus and his associates, 
who are dangerous, too, in their own way. But far more 
dangerous are these, who began when you were children, 
and took possession of your minds with their falsehoods, 
telling of one Socrates, a wise man, who speculated about 
the heaven above, and searched into the earth beneath, and 
made the worse appear the better cause. These are the 
accusers whom I dread; for they are the circulators of this 
rumor, and their hearers are too apt to fancy that specu- 
lators of this sort do not believe in the gods. And they are 
many, and their charges against me are of ancient date, 
and they made them in days when you were impressible— 
in childhood, or perhaps in youth — and the cause when heard 
went by default, for there was none to answer. And, hard- 
est of all, their names I do not know and cannot tell ; unless 
in the chance of a comic poet. But the main body of 
these slanderers who from envy and malice have wrought 
upon you — and there are some of them who are convinced 
themselves, and impart their convictions to others — all these, 
I say, are most difficult to deal with ; for I cannot have them 
Up here, and examine them, and therefore I must simply 
fight with shadows in my own defence, and examine when 
there is no one who answers. I will ask you then to assume 
with me^ as I was saying, that my opponents are of two kinds 
— one recent, the other ancient; and I hope that you will see 
the propriety of my answering the latter first, for these accu- 
sations you heard long before the others, and much oftener. 


Well, then, I will make my defence, and I will endeavor 
in the short time which is allowed to do away with this evil 
opinion of me which you have held for such a long time; 
and I hope I may succeed, if this be well for you and me, 
and that my words may find favor with you. But I know 
that to accomplish this is not easy — I quite see the nature of 
the task. Let the event be as God wills: in obedience to 
the law I make my defence. 

I will begin at the beginning, and ask what the accusation 
is which has given rise to this slander of me, and v/hich has 
encouraged Meletus to proceed against me. What do the 
slanderers say? They shall be my prosecutors, and I will 
sum up their words in an affidavit : " Socrates is an evil- 
doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under 
the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the 
better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to 
others." That is the nature of the accusation, and that is 
what you have seen yourselves in the comedy of Aristoph- 
anes; who has introduced a man whom he calls Socrates, 
going about and saying that he can walk in the air, and tallc- 
ing a deal of nonsense concerning matters of which I do not 
pretend to know either much or little — not that I mean to 
say anything disparaging of anyone who is a student of 
natural philosophy. I should be very sorry if Meletus could 
lay that to my charge. But the simple truth is, O Atheni- 
ans, that I have nothing to do with these studies. Very 
many of those here present are witnesses to the truth of 
this, and to them I appeal. Speak then, you who have heard 
me, and tell your neighbors whether any of you have ever 
known me hold forth in few words or in many upon mat- 
ters of this sort. . . . You hear their answer. And 
from what they say of this you will be able to judge of the 
truth of the rest. 

As little foundation is there for the report that I am a 
teacher, and take m.oney ; that is no more true than the other. 
Although, if a man is able to teach, I honor him for being 
paid. There is Gorgias of Leontlum, and Prodicus of Ceos, 
and Hippias of Elis, who go the round of the cities, and are 
able to persuade the young men to leave their own citizens, 
by whom they might be taught for nothing, and come to them. 


whom they not only pay, but are thankful if they may be al- 
lowed to pay them. There is actually a Parian philosopher 
residing in Athens, of whom I have heard ; and I came to hear 
of him in this way: I met a man who has spent a world of 
money on the Sophists, Callias the son of Hipponicus, and 
knowing that he had sons, I asked him : " Callias," I said, 
" if your two sons were foals or calves, there would be no 
difficulty in finding someone to put over them; we should 
hire a trainer of horses or a farmer probably who would 
improve and perfect them in their own proper virtue and ex- 
cellence ; but as they are human beings, whom are you think- 
ing of placing over them ? Is there anyone who understands 
human and political virtue? You must have thought about 
this as you have sons ; is there anyone ? " " There is," he 
said. " Who is he ? " said I, " and of what country ? and 
what does he charge ? " " Evenus the Parian," he replied ; 
" he is the man, and his charge is five minse." Happy is 
[Evenus, I said to myself, if he really has this wisdom, and 
teaches at such a modest charge. Had I the same, I should 
have been very proud and conceited ; but the truth is that I 
have no knowledge of the kind, O Athenians. 

I dare say that someone will ask the question, " Why is 
this, Socrates, and what is the origin of these accusations of 
you : for there must have been something strange which you 
have been doing? All this great fame and talk about you 
would never have arisen if you had been like other men : tell 
us, then, why this is, as we should be sorry to judge hastily 
of you." Nov/ I regard this as a fair challenge, and I will 
endeavor to explain to you the origin of this name of " wise," 
and of this evil fame. Please to attend them. And although 
some of you may think I am joking, I declare that I will 
tell you the entire truth. Men of Athens, this reputation of 
mine has come of a certain sort of wisdom which I possess. 
If you ask me what kind of wisdom, I reply, such wisdom 
as is attainable by man, for to that extent I am inclined to 
believe that I am wise; whereas the persons of whom I was 
speaking have a superhuman wisdom, which I may fail to 
describe, because I have it not myself ; and he who says that 
I have, speaks falsely, and is taking away my character. 
'And here, O men of Athens, I must beg you not to interrupt 


me, eyen if I seem to say something extravagant. For the 
word which I wiU speak is not mme. I will refer you tp a 
witness who is worthy of credit, and will tell you about my 
wisdom— whether I have any, and of what sort— and that 
witness shall be the god of Delphi. You must have known 
Chsrephon ; he was early a friend of mine, and also a friend 
of yours, for he shared in the exile of the people, and re- 
turned with you. Well, Chaerephon, as you know, was very 
impetuous in all his doings, and he went to Delphi and boldly 
asked the oracle to tell him whether — as I was saying, I must 
beg yau not to interrupt — he asked the oracle to tell him 
whether there was anyone wiser than I .was, and the 
Pythian prophetess answered that there was no man wiser. 
Chasrephon is dead himself, but his brotlier, who is in court, 
will confirm the truth of this story. 

Why do I mention this? Because I am going to explain 
to you why I have such an evil name. When I heard the 
answer, I said to myself. What can the god mean ? and wh^at 
is the interpretation of this riddle? for I know that I have 
no wisdom, small or great. What can he mean when he 
says that I am the wisest of men? And yet he is a god and 
cannot lie; that would be against his nature. After a long 
consideration, I at last thought of a method of trying the 
question. I reflected that if I could only find a man wiser 
than myself, then I might go to the god with a refutation in 
my hand. I should say to him, " Here is a man who is wiser 
than I am ; but you said that I was the wisest." Accordingly 
I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and ob- 
served to him — his name I need not mention ; he was a poli- 
tician whom I selected for examination — and the result was 
as follows : When I began to talk with him, I could not help 
thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought 
wise by many, and wiser still by himself; and I went and 
tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was 
not really wise ; and the consequence was that he hated me, 
and his enmity was shared by several who were present and 
heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away : 
Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows 
anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he 
is — for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows, i 


neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, 
then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him. Then I 
went to another, who had still higher philosophical preten- 
sions, and my conclusion was exactly the same. I made 
another enemy of him, and of many others besides him. 

After this I went to one man after another, being not un- 
conscious of the enmity which I provoked, and I lamented 
and feared this : but necessity was laid upon me — the word 
of God, I thought, ought to be considered first. And I said 
to myself, Go I must to all who appear to know, and find out 
the meaning of the oracle. And I swear to you, Athenians, 
by the dog I swear ! — for I must tell you the truth — the result 
of my mission was just this: I found that the men most in 
repute were all but the most foolish; and that some inferior 
men were really wiser and better. I will tell you the tale of 
my wanderings and of the " Herculean " labors, as I may 
call them, which I endured only to find at last the oracle 
irrefutable. When I left the politicians, I went to the poets ; 
tragic, dithyrambic, and all sorts. And there, I said to my- 
self, you will be detected ; now you will find out that you are 
more ignorant than they are. Accordingly, I took them some 
of the most elaborate passages in their own writings, and 
asked what was the meaning of them — thinking that they 
would teach me something. Will you believe me? I am 
almost ashamed to speak of this, but still I must say that there 
is hardly a person present who would not have talked better 
about their poetry than they did themselves. That showed 
me in an instant that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, 
but by a sort of genius and inspiration ; they are like diviners 
or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not un- 
derstand the meaning of them. And the poets appeared to me 
to be much in the same case; and I further observed that 
upon the strength of their poetry they believed themselves to 
be the wisest of men in other things in which they were not 
wise. So I departed, conceiving myself to be superior to 
them for the same reason that I was superior to the 

At last I went to the artisans, for I was conscious that I 
Icnew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they 
knew many fine things ; and in this I was not mistaken, for 


tHey did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in 
this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed 
that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the 
poets; because they were good workmen they thought that 
they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in 
them overshadowed their wisdom — therefore I asked myself 
on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was, 
neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like 
them in both; and I made answer to myself and the oracle 
that I was better off as I was. 

This investigation has led to my having many enemies of 
the worst and most dangerous kind, and has given occasion 
also to many calummies, and I am called wise, for my hearers 
always imagine that I myself possess the wisdom which I 
find wanting in others : but the truth is, O men of Athens, 
that God only is wise; and in this oracle he means to say 
that the wisdom of men is little or nothing; he is not speaking 
of Socrates, he is only using my name as an illustration, as 
if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows 
that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing. And so I go my 
way, obedient to the god, and make inquisition into the wis- 
dom of anyone, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to 
be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the 
oracle I show him that he is not wise; and this occupation 
quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give either to any 
public matter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I 
am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion to the god. 

There is another thing: — young men of the richer classes, 
who have not much to do, come about me of their own ac- 
cord; they like to hear the pretenders examined, and they 
often imitate me, and exam.ine others themselves; there are 
plenty of persons, as they soon enough discover, who think 
that they know something, but really know little or nothing : 
and then those who are examined by them instead of being 
angry with themselves are angry with me : This confounded 
Socrates, they say ; this villainous misleader of youth ! — and 
then if som.ebody asks them. Why, what evil does he practise 
or teach? they do not know, and cannot tell; but in order 
that they may not appear to be at a loss, they repeat the 
ready-made charges which are used against all philosophers 


about teaching things up in the clouds and under the earth, 
and having no gods, and making the worse appear the better 
cause; for they do not Uke to confess that their pretence of 
knowledge has been detected — which is the truth: and as 
they are numerous and ambitious and energetic, and are ah 
in battle array and have persuasive tongues, they have filled 
your ears with their loud and inveterate calumnies. And 
this is the reason why my three accusers, Meletus and Anytus 
and Lycon, have set upon me; Meletus, who has a quarrel 
with me on behalf of the poets; Anytus, on behalf of the 
craftsmen; Lycon, on behalf of the rhetoricians: and as 
I said at the beginning, I cannot expect to get rid of this 
mass of calumny all in a moment. And this, O men of 
Athens, is the truth and the whole truth; I have concealed 
nothing, I have dissembled nothing. And yet I know that 
this plainness of speech makes them hate me, and what is 
their hatred but a proof that I am speaking the truth ? — this 
is the occasion and reason of their slander of me, as you will 
find out either in this or in any future inquiry. 

I have said enough in my defence against the first class of 
my accusers; I turn to the second class, who are headed by 
Meletus, that good and patriotic m^an, as he calls himself. 
And now I will try to defend myself against them: these 
new accusers must also have their affidavit read. What do 
they say? Something of this sort: That Socrates is a doer 
of evil, and corrupter of the youth, and he does not believe 
in the gods of the State, and has other new divinities of his 
own. That is the sort of charge ; and now let us examine the 
particular counts-. He says that I am a doer of evil, who 
corrupt the youth ; but I say, O men of Athens, that Meletus 
is a doer of evil, and the evil is that he makes a joke of a 
serious matter, and is too ready at bringing other men to 
trial from a pretended zeal and interest about matters in 
which he really never had the smallest interest. And the 
truth of this I will endeavor to prove. 

Com.e hither, Meletus, and let me ask a question of yoti. 
You think a great deal about the improvement of youth ? 

Yes, I do. 

Tell the judges, then, who Is their improver; for you must 
know, as you have taken the pains to discover their corrupter. 


and are citing and accusing me before them. Speak, then, 
and tell the judges who their im.prover is. Observe, Meletus, 
that you are silent, and have nothing to say. But is not this 
rather disgraceful, and a very considerable proof of what 
I was saying, that you have no interest in the matter ? Speak 
up, friend, and tell us who their improver is. 

The laws. 

But that, my good sir, is not my meaning. I want to know 
who the person is, who, in the first place, knows the laws. 

The judges, Socrates, who are present in court. 

What do you mean to say, Meletus, that they are able to 
instruct and improve youth? 

Certainly they are. 

What, all of them, or some only and not others? 

All of them.. 

By the goddess Here, that is good news ! There are plenty 
of improvers, then. And what do you say of the audience — 
do they im.prove them? 

Yes, they do. 

And the Senators? 

Yes, the Senators improve them. 

But perhaps the ecclesiasts corrupt them?— or do they too 
improve them? 

They improve them. 

Then every Athenian improves and elevates them; all 
with the exception of myself; and I alone am their cor- 
rupter ? Is that what you affirm ? 

That is what I stoutly affirm. 

I am very unfortunate if that is true. But suppose I ask 
you a question: Would you say that this also holds true in 
the case of horses? Does one man do them harm and all 
the world good ? Is not the exact opposite of this true ? One 
man is able to do them good, or at least not many ; the trainer 
of horses, that is to say, does them good, and others who have 
to do with them rather injure them ? Is not that true, Meletus, 
of horses, or any other animals? Yes, certainly. Whether 
you and Anytus say yes or no, that is no matter. Happy 
indeed would be the condition of youth if they had one cor- 
rupter only, and all the rest of the v/orld were their im- 
provers. And you, Meletus, have sufficiently shown that 


you never had a thought about the young: your carelessness 
is seen in your not caring about matters spoken of in this 
very indictment. 

And now, Meletus, I must ask you another question: 
Which is better, to live among bad citizens, or among good 
ones? Answer, friend, I say; for that is a question which 
may be easily answered. Do not the good do their neighbors 
good, and the bad do them evil? 


And is there anyone who would rather be injured than 
benefited by those who live with him? Answer, my good 
friend; the law requires you to answer — does anyone like to 
be injured? 

Certainly not. 

And when you accuse me of corrupting and deteriorating 
the youth, do you allege that I corrupt them intentionally or 
unintentionally ? 

Intentionally, I say. 

But you have just admitted that the good do their neigh- 
bors good, and the evil do them evil. Now is that a truth 
which your superior wisdom has recognized thus early in life, 
and am I, at my age, in such darkness and ignorance as not 
to know that if a man with whom I have to live is corrupted 
by me, I am very likely to be harmed by him, and yet I cor- 
rupt him, and intentionally, too ? that is what you are saying, 
and of that you will never persuade me or any other human 
being. But either I do not corrupt them, or I corrupt them 
unintentionally, so that on either view of the case you lie. 
If my offence is unintentional, the law has no cognizance of 
unintentional offences : you ought to have taken me privately, 
and warned and admonished me; for if I had been better 
advised, I should have left of¥ doing what I only did unin- 
tentionally — no doubt I should; whereas you hated to con- 
verse with me or teach me, but you indicted me in this court, 
which is a place not of instruction, but of punishment. 

I have shown, Athenians, as I was saying, that Meletus has 
no care at all, great or small, about the matter. But still I 
should like to know, Meletus, in what I am aflirmed to cor- 
rupt the young. I suppose you mean, as I infer from your 
indictment, that I teach them not to acknowledge the gods 


which the State acknowledges, but some other new divinities 
or spiritual agencies in their stead. These are the lessons 
which corrupt the youth, as you say. 

Yes, that I say emphatically. 

Then, by the gods, Meletus, of whom we are speaking, tell 
me and the court, in somewhat plainer terms, what you 
mean ! for I do not as yet understand whether you affirm that 
I teach others to acknowledge some gods, and therefore 
do believe in gods and am not an entire atheist — this you do 
not lay to my charge; but only that they are not the same 
gods which the city recognizes — the charge is that they are 
different gods. Or, do you mean to say that I am an atheist 
simply, and a teacher of atheism ? 

I mean the latter — that you are a complete atheist. 

That is an extraordinary statement, Meletus. Why do 
you say that? Do you mean that I do not believe in the 
god-head of the sun or moon, which is the common creed 
of all men? 

I assure you, judges, that he does not believe in them; for 
he says that the sun is stone, and the moon earth. 

Friend Meletus, you think that you are accusing Anaxag- 
oras; and you have but a bad opinion of the judges, if you 
fancy them ignorant to such a degree as not to know that 
those doctrines are found in the books of Anaxagoras the 
Clazomenian, who is full of them. And these are the doc- 
trines which the youth are said to learn of Socrates, when 
there are not unfrequently exhibitions of them at the theatre 
(price of admission one drachma at the most) ; and they 
might cheaply purchase them, and laugh at Socrates if he 
pretends to father such eccentricities. And so, Meletus, you 
really think that I do not believe in any god ? 

I swear by Zeus that you believe absolutely in none at all. 

You are a liar, Meletus, not believed even by yourself. 
For I cannot help thinkings O men of Athens, that Meletus 
is reckless and impudent, and that he has written this indict- 
ment in a spirit of mere wantonness and youthful bravado. 
Has he not compounded a riddle, thinking to try me? He 
said to himself: I shall see v/hether this wise Socrates will 
discover my ingenious contradiction, or whether I shall be 
able to deceive him and the rest of them. For he certainly 


does appear to me to contradict himself in the indictment as 
much as if he said that Socrates is guilty of not believing 
in the gods, and yet of believing in them — but this surely 
is a piece of fun. 

I should like you, O men of Athens, to join me in examin- 
ing Vs^hat I conceive to be his inconsistency; and do you, 
Melettts, answer. And I must remind you that you are not 
to interrupt me if I speak in my accustomed manner. 

Did ever man, Meletus, believe in the existence of human 
things, and not of human beings? ... I wish, men of 
Athens, that he would answer, and not be always trying to 
get up an interruption. Did ever any man beli'eve in horse- 
manship, and not in horses? or in flute-playing and not in 
flute-players? No, my friend; I will answer to you and to 
the court, as you refuse to answer for yourself. There is no 
man who ever did. But now please to answer the next ques- 
tion : Can a man believe in spiritual and divine agencies, and 
not in spirits or demigods ? 

He cannot. 

I am glad that I have extracted that answer, by the assist- 
ance of the court; nevertheless you swear in the indictment 
that I teach and believe in divine or spiritual agencies (new 
or old, no matter for that) ; at any rate, I believe in spiritual 
agencies, as you say and swear in the affidavit; but if I 
believe in divine beings, I must beHeve in spirits or demi- 
gods ; is not that true ? Yes, that is true, for I may assume 
that your silence gives assent to that. Now what are spirits 
or demigods? are they not either gods ot the sons of gods? 
Is that true? 

Yes, that is true. 

But this is just the ingenious riddle of which I was speak- 
ing : the demigods or spirits are gods, and you say first that 
I don't believe in gods, and then again that I do believe in 
gods ; that is, if I believe in demigods. For if the demigods 
are the illegitimate sons of gods, whether by the Nymphs or 
by any other mothers, as is thought, that, as all men will 
allow, necessarily implies the existence of th^ir parents* You 
might as well affirm the existence of mules, and deny that 
of horses and asses. Such nonsense, Meletus, could only 
haye jseen intended by yott as a trial of me. You hare gttt 


this into the indictment because you had nothing real of 
which to accuse me. But no one who has a particle of 
understanding will ever be convinced by you that the same 
man can believe in divine and superhuman things, and yet 
not believe that there are gods and demigods and heroes. 

I have said enough in answer to the charge of Meletus: 
any elaborate defence is unnecessary; but as I was saying 
before, I certainly have many enemies, -"and this is what will 
be my destruction if I am destroyed; of that I am certain; 
not Meletus, nor yet Anytus, but the envy and detraction of 
the world, which has been the death of many good men, and 
,will probably be the death of many more ; there is no danger 
of my being the last of them. 

Someone will say : And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of 
a course of life which is likely to bring you to an untimely 
end? To him I may fairly answer: There you are mistaken: 
a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the 
chance of living or dying ; he ought only to consider whether 
in doing anything he is doing right or wrong — acting the 
part of a good man or of a bad. Whereas, according to your 
viev/, the heroes who fell at Troy were not good for much, 
and the son of Thetis above all, who altogether despised dan- 
ger in comparison with disgrace; and when his goddess 
mother said to him, in his eagerness to slay Hector, that if 
he avenged his companion Patroclus^ and slew Hector, he 
would die himself — " Fate," as she said, " waits upon you 
next after Hector " ; he, hearing this, utterly despised danger 
and death, and instead of fearing them, feared rather to live 
in dishonor, and not to avenge his friend, "Let me die 
next/' he replies, " and be avenged of my enemy, rather than 
abide here by the beaked ships, a scorn and a burden of the 
earth." Had Achilles any thought of death and danger? 
For wherever a man's place is, whether the place which he 
has chosen or that in v/hich he has been placed by a com- 
mander, there he ought to remain in the hour of danger; he 
should not think of death or of anything, but of disgrace. 
And this, O men of Athens, is a true saying. 

Strange, indeed, would be my conduct, O men of Athens, 
if I who, when I was ordered by the generals whom you 
chose to command me at Potidsea and Amphipolis and Delium, 


remained where they placed me, like any other man, facing 
death — if, I say, nov/, when, as I conceive and imagine, God 
orders me to fulfil the philosopher's mission of searching into 
myself and other men, I were to desert my post through fear 
of death, or any other fear; that would indeed be strange, 
and I might justly be arraigned in court for denying the 
existence of the gods, if I disobeyed the oracle because I was 
afraid of death: then I should be fancying that I was wise 
when I was not wise* For this fear of death is indeed the 
pretence of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being the appear- 
ance of knowing the unknown; since no one knows whether 
death, which they in their fear apprehend to be the greatest 
evil, may not be the greatest good. Is there not here conceit 
of knowledge, which is a disgraceful sort of ignorance? 
And this is the point in which, as I think, I am superior to 
men m general, and in which I might perhaps fancy myself 
wiser than other men — that whereas I know but little of the 
world below, I do not suppose that I know : but I do know that 
injustice and disobedience to a better, v\/"hether God or man, 
is evil and dishonorable, and I will never fear or avoid a 
possible good rather than a certain evil. And therefore if 
you let me go now, and reject the counsels of Anytus, who 
said that if I were not put to death I ought not to have been 
prosecuted, and that if I escape now, your sons will all be 
utterly ruined by listening to my words — if you say to me, 
Socrates, this time we will not mind Anytus, and will let 
you off, but upon one condition, that you are not to inquire 
and speculate in this way any more, and that if you are caught 
doing this again you shall die — if this was the condition on 
which you let me go, I should reply : Men of Athens, I honor 
and love you ; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while 
I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice 
and teaching of philosophy, exhorting anyone whom I meet 
after my manner, and convincing him, saying: O my friend, 
why do you who are a citizen of the great and mighty and 
wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the 
greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and 
so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improve- 
ment of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? 
Are you not ashamed of this ? And if the person with whom 


I am arguing says : Yes, but I do care ; I do not depart or let 
him go at once; I interrogate and examine and cross-exam- 
ine him, and if I think that he has no virtue, but only says 
that he has, I reproach him^with undervaluing the greater, 
and overvaluing the less. And this I should say to eve^ryone 
whom I meet, young and old, citizen and alien, but especially 
to the citizens, inasmuch as they are my brethren. For this 
is the command of God, as I would have you know; and I 
believe that to this day no greater good has ever happened 
in the State than my service to the God. For I do nothing 
but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to 
take thought for your persons and your properties, but first 
and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the 
soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that 
from virtue come money and every other good of man, pub- 
lic as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is 
the doctrine which corrupts the youth, my influence is ruin- 
ous indeed. But if anyone says that this is not my teaching, 
he is speaking an untruth. Wherefore, O men of Athens, I 
say to you, do as Anytus bids or not as Anytus bids, and either 
acquit me or not; but whatever you do, know that I shall 
never alter my ways, not even if I have to die many times. 

Men of Athens, do not interrupt, but hear me; there was 
an agreement between us that you should hear me out. And 
I think that what I am going to say will do you good: for 
I have something more to say, at which you may be in- 
clined to cry out; but I beg that you will not do this* I 
would have you know that, if you kill such a one as I am, 
you wall injure yourselves more than you will injure me. 
Meletus and Anytus will not injure me: they cannot; for it 
is not in the nature of things that a bad man should injure 
a better than himself. I do not deny that he may, perhaps, 
kill him, or drive him into exile, or deprive him of civil 
rights; and he may imagine, and others may imagine, that 
he is doing him a great injury: but in that I do not agree 
with him; for the evil of doing as Anytus is doing—of un- 
justly taking away another man's life — is greater far. And 
now, Athenians, I am not going to argue for my own sake, 
as you may think, but for yours, that you may not sin against 
the God, or lightly reject his boon by condemning me. Foc 


if you kill me you will not easily find another like me, who, 
if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort of 
gadfly, given to the State by the God; and the State is like 
a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to 
Ills very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that 
gadfly which God has given the State and all day long and 
in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and 
persuading and reproaching you. And as you will not easily 
find another like me, I would advise you to spare me. I 
dare say that you may feel irritated at being suddenly awak- 
ened when you are caught napping; and you may think that 
if you v/ere to strike me dead, as Anytus advises, which you 
easily might, then you would sleep on for the remainder of 
your lives, unless God in his care of you gives you another 
gadfly. And that I am given to you by God is proved by 
this: that if I had been like other men, I should not have 
neglected all my own concerns, or patiently seen the neglect 
of them during all these years, and have been doing yours, 
coming to you individually, like a father or elder brother, ex- 
horting you to regard virtue; this, I say, would not be like 
human nature. And had I gained anything, or if my exhor- 
tations had been paid, there would have been some sense in 
that: but now, as you will perceive, not even the impudence 
of my accusers dares to say that I have ever exacted or 
sought pay of anyone; they have no vv^itness of that. And I 
have a witness of the truth of what I say; my poverty is 
a sufficient witness. 

Someone may wonder why I go about in private, giving 
advice and busying myself with the conce*>ns of others, but 
do not venture to come forward in public and advise the 
State. I will tell you the reason of this. You have often 
heard me speak of an oracle or sign which comes to me, and 
is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in the indictment. 
This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The sign 
is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do 
something which I am going to do, but never commands me 
to do anything, and this is what stands in the way of m.y be- 
ing a politician. A-ud rightly, as I think. For I am cer- 
tain, O men of Athens, that 'if I had engaged in politics, 
I should have perished long ago and done no good 


eitfier to you or to myself. And don't be offended at my 
telling you the truth: for the truth is that no man who 
goes to war with you or any other multitude, honestly 
struggling against the commission of unrighteousness and 
wrong in the State, will save his life; he who will really 
fight for the right, if he would live even for a little while, 
must have a private station and not a public one. 

I can give you as proofs of this, not words only, but deeds, 
which you value more than words. Let me tell you a passage 
of my own life, which will prove to you that I should never 
have yielded to injustice from any fear of death, and that 
if I had not yielded I should have died at once. I will tell 
you a story — tasteless, perhaps, and commonplace, but never- 
theless true. The only office of State which I ever held, O 
men of Athens, was that of Senator; the tribe Antiochis, 
which is my tribe, had the presidency at the trial of the 
generals who had not taken up the bodies of the slain after 
the battle of Arginuss; and you proposed to try them all 
together, which was illegal, as you all thought afterwards; 
but at the time I was the only one of the Prytanes who was 
opposed to the illegality, and I gave miy vote against you; 
and when the orators threatened to impeach and arrest me, 
and have me taken away, and you called and shouted, I 
made up my mind that I would run the risk, having law 
and justice with me, rather than take part in your injustice 
because I feared imprisonment and death. This happened 
in the days of the democracy. But when the oligarchy of 
the Thirty was in power, they sent for me and four others 
into the rotunda, and bade us bring Leon the Salaminian 
from Salamis, as they v/anted to execute him. This was a 
specimen of the sort of commands which they were always 
giving with the view of implicating as many as possible in 
their crimes; and then I showed, not in words only, but in 
deed, that, if I may be allowed to use such an expression, I 
cared not a straw for death, and that my only fear was the 
fear of doing an unrighteous or unholy thing. For the 
strong arm of that oppressive power did not frighten me into 
doing wrong; and v/hen we came out of the rotunda the 
other four went to Salamis and fetched Leon, but I went 
qtiietly home. For which I might have lost my life, had 


not the power of the Thirty shortly afterwards come to an 
end. And to this many will witness. 

Now do you really imagine that I could have survived all 
these years, if I had led a public life, supposing that like 
a good man I had always supported the right and had made 
justice, as I ought, the first thing? No, indeed, men of 
Athens, neither I nor any other. But I have been always 
the same in all my actions, public as well as private, and 
never have I yielded any base compliance to those whO' 
are slanderously termed my disciples or to any other. For the 
truth is that I have no regular disciples: but if anyone likes 
to come and hear me while I am pursuing my mission, 
whether he be young or old, he may freely come. Nor do 
I converse with those who pay only, and not with those who 
do not pay ; but any one, whether he be rich or poor, may ask 
and answer me and listen to my words; and whether he 
turns out to be a bad man or a good one; that cannot be 
justly laid to my charge, as I never taught him anything. 
And if anyone says that he has ever learned or heard any- 
thing from me m private which all the world has not heard, 
I should like you to know that he is speaking an untruth. 

But I shall be asked. Why do people delight in continually 
conversing with you? I have told you already, Athenians, 
the whole truth about this: they like to hear the cross ex- 
amination of the pretenders to wisdom; there is amusement 
in this. And this is a duty which the God has imposed upon 
me, as I am assured by oracles, visions, and in every sort of 
way in which the will of divine power was ever signified to 
anyone. This is true, O Athenians ; or, if not true, would be 
soon refuted. For if I am really corrupting the youth, and 
have corrupted some of them already, those of them who 
have grown up and have become sensible that I gave them 
bad advice in the days of their youth should come forward 
as accusers and take their revenge ; and if they do not like to 
come themselves, some of their relatives, fathers, brothers, 
or other kinsmen, should say what evil their families suffered 
at my hands. Now is their time. Many of them I see in the 
court. There is Crito, who is of the same age and of the 
same deme with myself; and there is Critobulus his son, 
whom I also see. Then again there is Lysanias of Sphettus^ 


wKo IS tfie father of vEschines — he is present ; and also there 
is Antiphon of Cephisus, who is the father of Epignes; and 
there are the brothers of several who have associated with 
me. There is Nicostratus the son of Theosdotides, and the 
brother of Theodotus (now Theodotus himself is dead, and 
therefore he, at any rate, will not seek to stop him) ; and 
there is Paralus the son of Demodocus, who had a brother 
Theages ; and Adeimantus the son of Ariston, whose brother 
Plato is present; and ^antodorus, who is the brother of 
Apollodorus, whom I also see. I might mention a great 
many others, any of whom Meletus should have produced as 
witnesses in the course of his speech ; and let him still produce 
them, if he has forgotten; I will make way for him. And 
let him say, if he has any testimony of the sort which he can 
produce. Nay, Athenians, the very opposite is the truth. 
For all these are ready to witness on behalf of the corrupter, 
of the destroyer of their kindred, as Meletus and Anytus call 
me; not the corrupted youth only — there might have been a 
motive for that — but their uncorrupted elder relatives. Why 
should they too support me with their testimony? Why, in- 
deed, except for the sake of truth and justice, and because 
they know that I am speaking the truth, and that Meletus 
is lying. 

Well, Athenians, this and the like of this is nearly all the 
defence which I have to offer. Yet a word more. Perhaps 
there may be someone vv^ho is offended at me, when he calls 
to mind how he himself, on a similar or even a less serious 
occasion, had recourse to prayers and supplications with 
many tears, and how he produced his children in court, which 
was a moving spectacle, together with a posse of his relations 
and friends; whereas I, who am probably in danger of my 
life, will do none of these things. Perhaps this may come 
into his mind, and he may be set against me, and vote in 
anger because he is displeased at this. Now if there be such 
a person among you, which I am far from affirming, I may 
fairly reply to him : My friend, I am a man, and like other 
men, a creature of flesh and blood, and not of wood or stone, 
as Homer says; and I have a family, yes, and sons, O Athe- 
nians, three in number, one of whom is growing up, and 
the two others are still young; and yet I will not bring any 


of them hither in order to petition you for an acquittal. And 
why not? Not from any self-will or disregard of you. 
Whether I am or am not afraid of death is another question, 
of which I will not now speak. But my reason simply is 
that I feel such conduct to be discreditable to m.yself, and 
you, and the whole State. One who has reached my years, 
and who has a name for wisdom, whether deserved or not, 
ought not to debase himself. At any rate, the world has 
decided that Socrates is in some way superior to other men. 
And if those among you who are said to be superior in wisdom 
and courage, and any other virtue, demean themselves in this 
way, how shameful is their conduct ! I have seen m.en of 
reputation, when they have been condemned, behaving in 
the strangest manner: they seemed to fancy that they were 
going to suffer something dreadful if they died, and that 
they could be immortal if you only allowed them to live ; and 
I think that they were a dishonor to the State, and that 
any stranger coming in would say of them that the most 
eminent men of Athens, to whom the Athenians themselves 
give honor and command, are no better than women. And 
I say that these things ought not to be done by those of 
us who are of reputation; and if they are done, you ought 
not to permit them; you ought rather to show that you are 
more inclined to condemn, not the man who is quiet, but 
the who gets up a doleful scene, and makes the city 

But, setting aside the question of dishonor, there seems to 
be something wrong in petitioning a judge, and thus procur- 
ing an acquittal instead of informing and convincing him. 
For his duty is, not to make a present of justice, but to give 
judgment; and he has sworn that he will judge according to 
the laws, and not according to his own good pleasure; and 
neither he nor we should get into the habit of perjuring our- 
selves — there can be no piety in that. Do not then require 
me to do what I consider dishonorable and impious and 
wrong, especially now, when I am being tried for impiety on 
the indictment of Meletus. For if, O men of Athens, by 
force of persuasion and entreaty, I could overpower youf 
oaths, then I should be teaching you to believe that therg 
are no gods, and convict myself, in my own defence, ol 


tiot believing in them. But that is not the case ; for I do be- 
lieve that there are gods, and in a far higher sense than that 
in which any of my accusers believe in them. And to you 
and to God I commit my cause, to be determined by you as 
is best for you and me. 

There are many reasons why I am not grieved, O men of 
Athens, at the vote of condemnation. I expected this, and 
am only surprised that the votes are so nearly equal; for I 
had thought that the majority against me would have 
been far larger; but now, had thirty votes gone over to the 
other side, I should have been acquitted. And I may say 
that I have escaped Meletus. And I may say more; for 
without the assistance of Anytus and Lycon, he would not 
have had a fifth part of the votes, as the law requires, in 
which case he would have incurred a fine of a thousand 
drachmae, as is evident. 

And so he proposes death as the penalty. And what shall 
I propose on my part, O men of Athens ? Clearly that which 
is my due. And what is that which I ought to pay or to re- 
ceive? What shall be done to the man who has never had 
the wit to be idle during his whole life; but has been care- 
less of what the many care about — wealth and family inter- 
ests, and military offices, and speaking in the assembly, and 
magistracies, and plots, and parties. Reflecting that I v/as 
really too honest a man to follow in this way and live, I did 
not go where I could do no good to you or to m^yself; but 
where I could do the greatest good privately to everyone of 
you, thither I went, and sought to persuade every man among 
you that he must look to himself, and seek virtue and wis- 
dom before he looks to his private interests, and look to the 
State before he looks to the interests of the State; and that 
this should be the order which he observes in all his actions. 
What shall be done to such a one? Doubtless some good 
thing, O men of Athens, if he has his rev/ard; and the good 
should be of a kind suitable to him. What would be a re- 
ward suitable to a poor who is your benefactor, who 
desires leisure that he may instruct you? There can be no 
more fitting reward than maintenance in the Prytaneum, O 
men of Athens, a reward which he deserves far more thaa 


the citizen who has won the prize at Olympia in the horse 
or chariot race, whether the chariots were drawn by two 
horses or by many. For I am in want, and he has enough; 
and he only gives you the appearance of happiness, and I 
give you the reaHty. And if I am to estimate the penalty 
justly, I say that maintenance in the Prytaneum is the just 

Perhaps you may think that I am braving you in saying 
this, as in what I said before about the tears and prayers. 
But that is not the case. I speak rather because I am con- 
vinced that I never intentionally wronged anyone, although 
I cannot convince you of that — for we have had a short con- 
versation only; but if there were a law at Athens, such as 
there is in other cities, that a capital cause should not be 
decided in one day, then I believe that I should have con- 
vinced you; but now the time is too short. I cannot in a 
moment refute great slanders; and, as I am convinced that 
I never wronged another, I will assuredly not wrong myself. 
I will not say of myself that I deserve any evil, or propose 
any penalty. Why should I? Because I am afraid of the 
penalty of death which Meletus proposes? When I do not 
know whether death is a good or an evil, why should I pro- 
pose a penalty which would certainly be an evil? Shall 
I say imprisonment? And why should I live in prison, and 
be the slave of the magistrates of the year — of the Eleven? 
Or shall the penalty be a fine, and imprisonment until the 
fine is paid? There is the same objection. I should have 
to lie in prison, for money I have none, and I cannot pay. 
Arid if I say exile (and this may possibly be the penalty 
which you will affix), I must indeed be blinded by the love 
of life if I were to consider that when you, who are my own 
citizens, cannot endure my discourses and words, and have 
found them so grievous and odious that you would fain have 
done with them, others are likely to endure me. No, indeed, 
men of Athens, that is not very likely. And what a life should 
I lead, at my age, wandering from city to city, living in ever- 
changing exile, and always being driven out ! For I am 
quite sure that into whatever place I go, as here so also 
there, the young m.en will come to me; and if I drive them 
away, their elders will drive me out at their desire; and if 


I let them come, their fathers and friends will drive me out 
for their sakes. Someone will say : Yes, Socrates, but can- 
not you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign 
city, and no one will interfere with you ? Now I have great 
difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For 
if I tell you that this would be a disobedience to a divine 
command, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you 
will not believe that I am serious ; and if I say again that the 
greatest good of man is daily to converse about virtue, and 
all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and 
others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth 
living — ^that you are still less likely to believe. And yet what 
I say is true, although a thing of which it is hard for me to 
persuade you. Moreover, I am not accustomed to think that 
I deserve any punishment. Had I money I might have pro- 
posed to give you what I had, and have been none the worse. 
But you see that I have none, and can only ask you to propor- 
tion the fine to my means. However, I think that I could 
afford a mina, and therefore I propose that penalty; Plato, 
Crito, Critobulus, and Apollodorus, my friends here, bid me 
say thirty minss, and they will be the sureties. Well then, 
say thirty minse, let that be the penalty ; for that they will be 
ample security to you. 

Not much time will be gained, O Athenians, in return for 
the evil name which you will get from the detractors of the 
city, who will say that you killed Socrates, a wise man; for 
they will call me wise even although I am not wise when 
they want to reproach you. If you had waited a little while, 
your desire would have been fulfilled in the course of nature, 
For I am far advanced in years, as you may perceive and 
not far from death. I am speaking now only to those of you 
who have condemned me to death. And I have another 
thing to say to them: You think that I was convicted 
through deficiency of words — I mean, that if I had thought 
fit to leave nothing undone, nothing unsaid, I might have 
gained an acquittal. Not so; the deficiency which led to 
my conviction was not of words — certainly not. But I had 
not the boldness or impudence or inclination to address you 
as you would have liked me to address you, weeping and 


wailing and lamenting, and saying and doing many things 
which you have been accustomed to heai* from others, and 
which, as I say, are unworthy of me. But I thought that 
I ought not to do anything common or mean in the hour of 
danger: nor do I now repent of the manner of my defence, 
and I would rather die having spoken after my manner, than 
speak in your manner and live. For neither in war nor 
yet at law ought any man to use every way of escaping death. 
For often in battle there is no doubt that if a man will throw 
away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, 
he may escape death; and in other dangers there are other 
ways of escaping death, if a man is willing to say and do 
anything. The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding 
death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs faster 
than death. I am old and move slowly, and the slower run- 
ner has overtaken me, and my accusers are keen and quick, 
and the faster runner, who is unrighteousness, has overtaken 
them. And now I depart hence condemned by you to suffer 
the penalty of death, and they, too, go their ways condemned 
by the truth to suffer the penalty of villainy and wrong; 
and I must abide by my award — let them abide by theirs. 
I suppose that these things may be regarded as fated — and 
I think that they are well. 

And now, O men who have condemned me, I would fain 
prophesy to you ; for I am about to die, and that is the hour 
in which men are gifted with prophetic power. And I 
prophesy to you who are my murderers, that immediately 
after my death punishment far heavier than you have in- 
flicted on me will surely await you. Me you have killed 
because you wanted to escape the accuser, and not to give 
an account of your lives. But that will not be as you sup- 
pose : far otherwise. For I say that there will be more ac- 
cusers of you than there are now; accusers whom hitherto 
I have restrained : and as they are younger they will be more 
severe with you, and you will be more offended at them. 
For if you think that by killing men you can avoid the accuser 
censuring your lives, you are mistaken; that is not a way 
of escape which is either possible or honorable; the easiest 
and noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to 
b^ improving yourselves. This is the prophecy which 


I utter before my departure, to the judges who have con- 
demjied me. 

Friends, who would have acquitted me, I would like alsQ 
to talk with you about this thing which has happened, while 
the magistrates are busy, and before I go to the place at 
which I must die. Stay then awhile, for v^^e may as well 
talk with one another while there is time. You are my 
friends, and I should like to show you the meaning of this 
event which has happened to me. O my judges— for you I 
may truly call judges — I should like to tell you of a wonder- 
ful circumstance. Hitherto the familiar oracle within me 
has constantly been in the habit of opposing me even about 
trifles, if I was going to make a slip or error about anything ; 
and now as you see there has come upon me that which may 
be thought, and is generally believed to be, the last and 
worst evil. But the oracle made no sign of opposition, either 
as I was leaving my house and going out in the morning, 
or when I was going up into this court, or while I was 
speaking, at anything which I was going to say; and yet I 
have often been stopped in the middle of a speech; but now 
in nothing I either said or did touching this matter has the 
oracle opposed me. What do I take to be the explanation of 
this? I will tell you. I regard this as a proof that what 
has happened to me is a good, and that those of us who think 
that death is an evil are in error. This is a great proof to 
me of what I am saying, for the customary sign would surely 
have opposed me had I been going to evil and not to good. 

Let us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there 
is great reason to hope that death is a good, for one of two 
things : either death is a state of nothingness and utter uncon- 
sciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration 
of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose 
that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of 
him who is undisturbed even by the sight of dreams, death 
will be an unspeakable gain. For if a person were to select 
the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams, 
and were to compare with this the other days and nights of 
his lifcj and then were to tell us how many days and nights 
be had passed in the course of his life better and more pleas- 
antly than this one, I think that any man, I will not say a 


private man, but even the great king, will not find many such 
days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if 
death is like this, I say that to die, is gain; for eternity is 
then only a single night. But if death is the journey to an- 
other place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, 
O my friends and judges, can be greater than this? If in- 
deed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below, he is de- 
livered from the professors of justice in this world, and 
finds the true judges who are said to give judgm.ent there, 
Minos and Rhadamanthus and ^acus and Triptolemus, and 
other sons of God who were righteous in their own life, that 
pilgrimage will be worth making. What would not a man 
give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musseus and 
Hesiod and Homer? Nay, if this be true, let me die again 
and again. I, too, shall have a wonderful interest in a place 
where I can converse with Palamedes, and Ajax the son of 
Telamon, and other heroes of old, who have suffered death 
through an unjust judgment; and there will be no small 
pleasure, as I think, in comparing my own sufferings with 
theirs. Above all, I shall be able to continue my search 
into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in 
that; I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be 
wise, and is not. What would not a man give, O judges, tO' 
be able to examine the leader of the great Trojan expedition; 
or Odysseus or Sisyphus, or numberless others, men and 
women too ! What infinite delight would there be in con- 
versing with them and asking them questions ! For in that 
world they do not put a man to death for this ; certainly not. 
For besides being happier in that world than in this, they will 
be immortal, if what is said is true. 

Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and 
know this of a truth — that no evil can happen to a good man, 
either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected 
by the gods; nor has my own approaching end happened 
by mere chance. But I see clearly that to die and be released 
was better for me; and therefore the oracle gave no sign. 
For which reason also, I am not angry with my accusers, or 
my condemners; they have done me no harm, although 
neither of them meant to do me any good ; and for this I ma}^ 
gently blame them. 


Still I have a favor to ask of them. When my sons are 
grown np, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them; 
and I would have you trouble them, as I have troubled you, 
if they seem to care about riches, or anything, more than 
about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they 
are really nothing — then reprove them, as I have reproved 
you, for not caring about that for which they ought to care, 
and thinking that they are something when they are really 
nothing. And if you do this, I and my sons will have re- 
ceived justice at your hands. 

The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — 
I to die, and you to live. Which is better, God only knows. 


Socrates Crito 

Scene: The Prison of Socrates 


HY have you come at this hour, Crito? it must be 
quite early. 
Crito. Yes, certainly. 

Soc. What is the exact time? 

Cr. The dawn is breaking. 

Soc. I wonder the keeper of the prison would let you in. 

Cr. He knows me because I often come, Socrates; more- 
over, I have done him a kindness. 

Soc. And are you only just come? 

Cr. No, I came some time ago. 

Soc. Then why did you sit and say nothing, instead of 
awakening me at once? 

Cr. Why, indeed, Socrates, I myself would rather not 
have all this sleeplessness and sorrow. But I have been 
wondering at your peaceful slumbers, and that was the 
reason why I did not awaken you, because I wanted you to 
be out of pain. I have always thought you happy in the 
calmness of your temperament; but never did I see the 
like of the easy, cheerful way in which you bear this 

Soc. Why, Crito, when a man has reached my age !ie 
ought not to be repining at the prospect of death. 

Cr. And yet other old men find themselves in similar mis- 
fortunes, and age does not prevent them from repining. 

Soc, That may be. But you have not told me why you 
come at this early hour. 

Cr, I come to bring you a message which is sad and pain- 



ful; not^ as I believe, to yourself, but to all of us who are 
your friends, and saddest of all to me. 

Soc, What ! I suppose that the ship has come from 
Delos, on the arrival of which I am to die ? 

Cr, No, the ship has not actually arrived, but she will 
probably be here to-day, as persons who have come from 
Sunium tell me that they have left her there ; and therefore 
to-morrow, Socrates, will be the last day of your life. 

Soc. Very well, Crito; if such is the will of God, I am 
wilHng; but my belief is that there will be a delay of 
a day. 

Cr. Why do you say this ? 

Soc. I will tell you. I am to die on the <iay after the ar- 
rival of the ship? 

Cr. Yes; that is what the authorities say. 

Soc. But I do not think that the ship will be here until 
to-morrow; this I gather from a vision which I had last 
night, or rather only just now, when you fortunately allowed 
me to sleep. 

Cr. And what was the nature of the vision? 

Soc. There came to me the likeness of a woman, fair and 
comely, clothed in white raiment, who called to me and said : 

Socrates- — 

" The third day hence, to Phthia shalt thou go." 

Cr. What a singular dream, Socrates ! 

Soc. There can be no doubt about the meaning, Crito, I 

Cr. Yes : the meaning is only too clear. But, O ! my 
beloved Socrates, let me entreat you once more to take my 
advice and escape. For if you die I shall not only lose a 
friend who can never be replaced, but there is another evil : 
people who do not know you and me will believe that I might 
have saved you if I had been willing to give money, but that 

1 did not care. Now, can there be a worse disgrace than this 
— that I should be thought to value money more than the 
life of a friend ? For the many will not be persuaded that I 
wanted you to escape, and that you refused. 

Soc. But why, my dear Crito, should we care about the 
opinion of the many? Good men, and they are the only 

1 HC— Vol. 2 


persons who are worth considering, will think of these things 
truly as they happened. 

Cr. But do you see, Socrates, that the opinion of the 
many must be regarded, as is evident in your own case, be- 
cause they can do the very greatest evil to anyone who has 
lost their good opinion? 

Soc. I only wish, Crito, that they could; for then they 
could also do the greatest good, and that would be well. But 
the truth is, that they can do neither good nor evil: they 
cannot make a man wise or make him foolish ; and whatever 
they do is the result of chance. 

Cr. Well, I will not dispute about that; but please to tell 
me, Socrates, whether you are not acting out of regard to me 
and your other friends : are you not afraid that if you escape 
hence we may get into trouble with the informers for having 
stolen you away, and lose either the whole or a great part of 
our property; or that even a worse evil may happen to us? 
Now, if this is your fear, be at ease; for in order to save 
you, we ought surely to run this or even a greater risk; be 
persuaded, then, and do as I say. 

Soc. Yes, Crito, that is one fear which you mention, but 
by no means the only one. 

Cr. Fear not. There are persons who at no great cost are 
willing to save you and bring you out of prison ; and as for 
the informers, you may observe that they are far from being 
exorbitant in their demands ; a little money will satisfy them. 
My means, which, as I am sure, are ample, are at your ser- 
vice, and if you have a scruple about spending all mine, here 
are strangers v/ho will give you the use of theirs ; and one of 
them, Simmias the Theban, has brought a sum of money for 
this very purpose; and Cebes and many others are willing 
to spend their money too. I say, therefore, do not on that 
account hesitate about making your escape, and do not say, 
as you did in the court, that you will have a difficulty in 
knowing what to do with yourself if you escape. For men 
will love you in other places to which you may go, and not 
in Athens only; there are friends of mine in Thessaly, if 
you like to go to them, who will value and protect you, and 
no Thessalian will give you any trouble. Nor can I think that 
jrou are justified, Socrates, in betraying your own life when 

2 HC— Vol. 2 


you might be saved; this is playing into the hands of your 
enemies and destroyers ; and moreover I should say that you 
were betraying your children; for you might bring them 
up and educate them; instead of which you go away and 
leave them, and they will have to take their chance; and 
if they do not meet with the usual fate of orphans, there will 
be small thanks to you. No man should bring children into 
the world who is unwilling to persevere to the end in their 
nurture and education. But you are choosing the easier 
part, as I think, not the better and manlier, which would 
rather have become one who professes virtue in all his 
actions, like yourself. And, indeed, I am ashamed not only 
of you, but of us who are your friends, when I reflect that 
this entire business of yours will be attributed to our want 
of courage. The trial need never have come on, or might 
have been brought to another issue ; and the end of all, which 
Is the crowning absurdity, will seem to have been permitted 
by us, through cowardice and baseness, who might have 
saved you, as you might have saved yourself, if we had been 
good for anything (for there was no difficulty in escaping) ; 
and we did not see how disgraceful, Socrates, and also mis- 
erable all this will be to us as well as to you. Make your 
mind up then, or rather have your mind already made up, 
for the time of deliberation is over, and there is only one 
thing to be done, which must be done, if at all, this very 
night, and which any delay will render all but imipossible; 
I beseech you therefore, Socrates, to be persuaded by me, 
and to do as I say. 

Soc. Dear Crito, your zeal is invaluable, if a right one; 
but if wrong, the greater the zeal the greater the evil ; and 
therefore we ought to consider whether these things shall 
be done or not. For I am and always have been one of those 
natures who must be guided by reason, whatever the reason 
may be which upon reflection appears to me to be the best; 
and now that this fortune has come upon me, I cannot put 
away the reasons which I have before given: the principles 
which I have hitherto honored and revered I still honor, and 
unless we can find other and better principles on the instant, 
I am certain not to agree with you ; no, not even if the power 
of the multitude could inflict rnanjr more imprisonments. 


confiscations, deaths, frightening us like children with hob- 
goblin terrors. But what will be the fairest way of con- 
sidering the question? Shall I return to your old argument 
about the opinions of men, some of which are to be re- 
garded, and others, as we were saying, are not to be 
regarded ? Now were we right in maintaining this before I 
was condemned? And has the argument which was once 
good now proved to be talk for the sake of talking; in fact 
an amusement only, and altogether vanity? That is wnat 
I want to consider with your help, Crito : whether, under my 
present circumstances, the argument appears to be in any 
way different or not; and is to be allov/ed by me or disal- 
lowed. That argument, which, as I believe, is maintained 
by many who assume to be authorities, was to the effect, as 
I was saying, that the opinions of some men are to be re- 
garded, and of other men not to be regarded. Now^ you, 
Crito, are a disinterested person who are not going to die 
to-morrow — at least, there is no human probability of this, 
and you are therefore not liable to be deceived by the 
circumstances in which you are placed. Tell me, then, 
whether I am right in saying that some opinions, and the 
opinions of some men only, are to be valued, and other 
opinions, and the opinions of other men, are not to be 
valued. I ask you whether I was right in maintaining 

Cr. Certainly. 

Soc. The good are to be regarded, and not the bad? 

Cr. Yes. 

Sgc. And the opinions of the wise are good, and the opin- 
ions of the unwise are evil ? 

Cr. Certainly. 

Soc. And what was said about another matter? Was 
the disciple in gymnastics supposed to attend to the praise 
and blame and opinion of every man, or of one man only — 
his physician or trainer, whoever that was? 

Cr. Of one man only. 

Soc. And he ought to fear the censure and welcome the 
praise of that one only, and not of the many? 

Cr. That is clear. 

Soc, And he ought to live and train, and eat and drink 


in the way which seems good to his single master who has 
understanding, rather than according to the opinion of all 
other men put together? 

Cr. True. 

Soc. And if he disobeys and disregards the opinion and 
approval of the one, and regards the opinion of the manjr 
who have no understanding, will he not suffer evil? 

Cr. Certainly he will. 

Soc. And what will the evil be, whither tending and what 
affecting, in the disobedient person? 

Cr. Clearly, affecting the body; that is what is destroyed 
by the evil. 

Soc. Very good; and is not this true, Crito, of other 
things which we need not separately enumerate? In the 
matter of just and unjust, fair and foul, good and evil, which 
are the subjects of our present consultation, ought we to 
follow the opinion of the many and to fear them; or the 
opinion of the one man who has understanding, and whom 
we ought to fear and reverence more than all the rest of the 
world: and whom deserting we shall destroy and injure that 
principle in us which may be assumed to be improved by 
justice and deteriorated by injustice; is there not such a 
principle ? 

Cr. Certainly there is, Socrates. 

Soc. Take a parallel instance; if, acting under the advice 
of m.en who have no understanding, we destroy that which 
is improvable by health and deteriorated by disease — when 
that has been destroyed, I say, would life be worth having? 
And that is — the body? 

Cr. Yes. 

Soc. Could we live, having an evil and corrupted body ? 

Cr. Certainly not. 

Soc. And will life be worth having, if that higher part of 
man be depraved, which is improved by justice and deterio- 
rated by injustice? Do we suppose that principle, whatever 
it may be in man, which has to do with justice and injustice, 
to be inferior to the body? 

Cr. Certainly not. 

Soc. More honored, then? 

Cr. Far more honored. 


Soc, Then, my friend, we must not regard what the many 
say of us : but what he, the one man who has understanding 
of just and unjust, will say, and what the truth will say. And 
therefore you begin in error when you suggest that we 
should regard the opinion of the many about just and unjust, 
good and evil, honorable and dishonorable. Well, someone 
will say, " But the many can kill us." 

Cr. Yes, Socrates; that will clearly be the answer. 

Soc. That is true; but still I find with surprise that the 
old argument is, as I conceive, unshaken as ever. And I 
should like to know whether I may say the same of another 
proposition — that not life, but a good life, is to be chiefly 
valued ? 

Cr. Yes, that also remains. 

Soc. And a good life is equivalent to a just and honorable 
one — that holds also? 

Cr. Yes, that holds. 

Soc. From these premises I proceed to argue the question 
^whether I ought or ought not to try to escape without the 
consent of the Athenians : and if I am clearly right in escap- 
ing, then I will m.ake the attempt; but if not, I will abstain. 
The other considerations which you mention, of money and 
loss of character, and the duty of educating children, are as 
I hear, only the doctrines of the multitude, who would be as 
ready to call people to life, if they were able, as they are to 
put them to death — and with as little reason. But now, since 
the argument has thus far prevailed, the only question which 
remains to be considered is, whether we shall do rightly 
either in escaping or in suffering others to aid in our escape 
and paying them in money and thanks, or whether we shall 
not do rightly; and if the latter, then death or any other 
calamity which may ensue on my remaining here must not 
be allowed to enter into the calculation. 

Cr. I think that you are right, Socrates; how then shall 
"we proceed? 

Soc. Let us consider the matter together, and do you 
either refute me if you can, and I will be convinced ; or else 
cease, my dear friend, from repeating to me that I ought 
to escape against the wishes of the Athenians: for I am 
extremely desirous to be persuaded by you, but not against 


my own better judgment. And now please to consider 
my first position, and do your best to answer me. 

Cr. I will do my best. 

Soc. Are we to say that we are never intentionally to do 
wrong, or that in one way we ought and in another way we 
ought not to do wrong, or is doing wrong always evil and 
dishonorable, as I was just now saying, and as has been 
already acknowledged by us ? Are all our former admissions 
which were made within a few days to be thrown away? 
And have we, at our age, been earnestly discoursing with 
one another all our life long only to discover that we are 
no better than children? Or are we to rest assured, in spite 
of the opinion of the many, and in spite of consequences 
whether better or worse, of the truth of what was then said, 
that injustice is always an evil and dishonor to him who acts 
unjustly? Shall we affirm that? 

Cr. Yes. 

Soc. Then we must do no wrong? 

Cr. Certainly not. 
' Soc. Nor when injured injure in return, as the many 
imagine ; for we must injure no one at all ? 

Cr. Clearly not. 

Soc. Again, Crito, may we do evil? 

Cr. Surely not, Socrates. 

Soc. And what of doing evil in return for evil, which is 
the morality of the many — is that just or not? 

Cr. Not just. 

Soc. For doing evil to another is the same as injuring 
him ? 

Cr. Very true. 

Soc. Then we ought not to retaliate or render evil for 
evil to anyone, whatever evil w^e may have suffered from 
him. But I would have you consider, Crito, whether you 
really mean what you are saying. For this opinion has never 
been held, and never will be held, by any considerable num- 
ber of persons; and those who are agreed and those who 
are not agreed upon this point have no common ground, 
and can only despise one another, when they see how widely 
they differ. Tell me, then, whether you agree with and 
assent to my first principle, that neither injury nor retalia- 


tion nor v/arding off evil by evil is ever right. And shall 
that be the premise of our argument ? Or do you decline and 
dissent from this? For this has been of old and is still my 
opinion ; but, if you are of another opinion, let me hear what 
you have to say. If, however, you remain of the same mind 
as formerly, I will proceed to the next step. 

Cr, You may proceed, for I have not changed my mind. 

Soc. Then I will proceed to the next step, which may be 
put in the form of a question: Ought a man to do what he 
admits to be right, or ought he to betray the right? 

Cr, He ought to do what he thinks right. 

Soc. But if this is true, what is the application? In leav- 
ing the prison against the will of the Athenians, do I wrong 
any ? or rather do I not wrong those whom I ought least to 
wrong? Do I not desert the principles v/hich were acknowl- 
edged by us to be just? What do you say? 

Cr. I cannot tell, Socrates, for I do not know. 

Soc. Then consider the matter in this way: Imagine that 
I am about to play truant (you may call the proceeding by 
any name which you like), and the laws and the government 
come and interrogate me: "Tell us, Socrates," they say; 
" what are you about ? are you going by an act of yours to 
overturn us — the laws and the whole State, as far as in 3^ou 
lies? Do you imagine that a State can subsist and not be 
overthrown, in which the decisions of law have no power, 
but are set aside and overthrown by individuals?" What 
will be our answer, Crito, to these and the like words? 
Anyone, and especially a clever rhetorician, will have a good 
deal to urge about the evil of setting aside the law which 
requires a sentence to be carried out; and we might reply, 
"Yes; but the State has injured us and given an unjust 
sentence." Suppose I say that? 

Cr. Very good, Socrates. 

Soc. "And was that our agreement v/ith you?" the law 
would say; "or were you to abide by the sentence of the 
State?" And if I were to express astonishment at their 
saying this, the law would probably add : " Ansv^er, Socrates, 
instead of opening your eyes : you are in the habit of asking 
and answering questions. Tell us what complaint you have 
tio make against us which justifies you in attempting to de- 


s-troy tas and the State ? In the first place did we no? bring 
you into existence? Your father married your mother by 
our aid and begat you. Say whether you have any objection 
to urge against those of us who regulate marriage ? " None, 
I should reply. " Or against those of us who regulate the 
system of nurture and education of children in which you 
were trained? Were not the laws, v/ho have the charge of 
this, right in commanding your father to train you in music 
and gymnastic ? " Right, I should reply. '' Well, then, since 
you were brought into the world and nurtured and educated 
by us, can you deny in the first place that you are our child 
and slave, as your fathers were before you? And if this is 
true you are not on equal terms with us; nor can you think 
that you have a right to do to us what we are doing to you. 
Would you have any right to strike or revile or do any other 
evil to a father or to your master, if you had one, when you 
have been struck or reviled by him, or received some other 
evil at his hands? — you would not say this? And because 
we think right to destroy you, do you think that you have 
any right to destroy us in return, and your country as far 
as in you lies ? And will you, O professor of true virtue, say 
that you are justified in this? Has a philosopher like you 
failed to discover that our country is more to be valued and 
higher and holier far than mother or father or any ancestor, 
and more to be regarded in the eyes of the gods and of men 
of understanding? also to be soothed, and gently and rev- 
erently entreated when angry, even more than a father, and 
if not persuaded, obeyed? And when we are punished by 
her, whether with imprisonment or stripes, the punishment 
is to be endured in silence; and if she leads us to wounds 
or death in battle, thither we follow as is right; neither may 
anyone yield or retreat or leave his rank, but whether in 
battle or in a court of law, or In any other place, he must 
do what his city and his country order him; or he must 
change their view of what is just: and if he may do no vio- 
lence to his father or mother, much less may he do violence 
to his country." What answer shall we make to this, Crito ? 
Do the lav>^s speak truly, or do they not ? 

Cr. I think that they do. 

Soc. Then the laws will say : " Consider, Socrates, if this 


is true, that in your present attempt you are going to do us 
wrong. For, after having brought you into the world, and 
nurtured and educated you, and given you and every other 
citizen a share in every good that we had to give, we further 
proclaim and give the right to every Athenian, that if he 
does not like us when he has come of age and has seen the 
ways of the city, and made our acquaintance, he may go 
where he pleases and take his goods with him; and none of 
us laws will forbid him or interfere with him. Any of you 
who does not like us and the city, and who wants to go to 
a colony or to any other city, may go where he likes, and 
take his goods with him. But he who has experience of the 
manner in which we order justice and administer the State, 
and still remains, has entered into an implied contract that 
he will do as we command him. And he who disobeys us 
is, as we maintain, thrice wrong: first, because in disobeying 
us he is disobeying his parents; secondly, because we are 
the authors of his education; thirdly, because he has made 
an agreement with us that he will duly obey our commands ; 
and he neither obeys them nor convinces us that our com- 
mands are v/rong; and we do not rudely impose them, but 
give him the alternative of obeying or convincing us; that 
is what we offer, and he does neither. These are the sort 
of accusations to which, as we were saying, you, Socrates, 
will be exposed if you accomplish your intentions; you, 
above all other Athenians." Suppose I ask, why is this? 
they will justly retort upon me that I above all other men 
have acknowledged the agreement. " There is clear proof," 
they will say, " Socrates, that we and the city were not dis- 
pleasing to you. Of all Athenians you have been the most 
constant resident in the city, which, as you never leave, you 
may be supposed to love. For you never went out of the 
city either to see the games, except once when you went to 
the Isthmus, or to any other place unless when you were on 
military service; nor did you travel as other men do. Nor 
had you any curiosity to know other States or their laws: 
your affections did not go beyond us and our State ; we were 
your especial favorites, and you acquiesced in our govern- 
ment of you; and this is the State in which you begat your 
children, which is a proof of your satisfaction. Moreover^ 


you might, if you had liked, have fixed the penalty at ban- 
ishment in the course of the trial — the State which refuses 
to let you go now would have let you go then. But you 
pretended that you preferred death to exile, and that you 
were not grieved at death. And now you have forgotten 
these fine sentiments, and pay no respect to us, the laws, 
of whom you are the destroyer; and are doing what only a 
miserable slave would do, running away and turning your 
back upon the compacts and agreements which you made 
as a citizen. And first of all answer this very question : Are 
we right in saying that you agreed to be governed according 
to us in deed, and not in word only ? Is that true or not ? " 
How shall we answer that, Crito ? Must we not agree ? 

Cr. There is no help, Socrates. 

Soc. Then will they not say: "You, Socrates, are break- 
ing the covenants and agreements which you made with us 
at your leisure, not in any haste or under any compulsion or 
deception, but having had seventy years to think of them, 
during which time you were at liberty to leave the city, if we 
were not to your mind, or if our covenants appeared to you 
to be unfair. You had your choice, and might have gone 
either to Lacedasmon or Crete, which you often praise for 
their good government, or to some other Hellenic or foreign 
State. Whereas you, above all other Athenians, seemed to 
be so fond of the State, or, in other words, of us her laws 
(for who would like a State that has no laws?), that you 
never stirred out of her: the halt, the blind, the maimed, 
were not more stationary in her than you were. And now 
you run away and forsake your agreements. Not so, Soc- 
rates, if you will take our advice; do not make yourself 
ridiculous by escaping out of the city. 

"For just consider, if you transgress and err in this sort 
of way, what good will you do, either to yourself or to your 
friends? That your friends will be driven into exile and 
deprived of citizenship, or will lose their property, is toler- 
ably certain; and you yourself, if you fly to one of the neigh- 
boring cities, as, for example, Thebes or Megara, both of 
which are well-governed cities, will come to them as an 
enemy, Socrates, and their government will be against you, 
and all patriotic citizens will cast an evil eye upon you as 


a subverter of the laws, and you will confirm in the minds 
of the judges the justice of their own condem.nation of you. 
For he who is a corrupter of the laws is more than likely to 
be corrupter of the young and foolish portion of mankind. 
Will you then flee from well-ordered cities and virtuous 
men? and is existence worth having on these terms? Or 
will you go to them without shame, and talk to them, Soc- 
rates ? And what will you say to them ? What you say here 
about virtue and justice and institutions and laws being the 
best things among men? Would that be decent of you? 
Surely not. But if you go away from well-governed States 
to Crito's friends in Thessaly, where there is great disorder 
and license, they will be charmed to have the tale of your 
escape from prison, set off with ludicrous particulars of 
the manner in which you were wrapped in a goatskin or 
some other disguise, and metamorphosed as the fashion of 
runaways is — that is very likely; but will there be no one 
to remind you that in your old age you violated the most 
sacred laws from a miserable desire of a little m-ore life? 
Perhaps not, if you keep them in a good temper ; but if they 
are out of temper you will hear many degrading things; 
you will live, but hov/ ? — as the flatterer of all men, and the 
servant of all men ; and doing what ? — eating and drinking 
in Thessaly, having gone abroad in order that you may 
get a dinner. And where will be your fine sentiments about 
justice and virtue then? Say that 3^ou wish to live for the 
sake of your children, that you may bring them up and edu- 
cate them — will you take them into Thessaly and deprive 
them of Athenian citizenship ? Is that the benefit which you 
would confer upon them.? Or are you under the impression 
that they will be better cared for and educated here if you 
are still alive, although absent from them; for that your 
friends will take care of them ? Do you fancy that if you are 
an inhabitant of Thessaly they will take care of them, and if 
you are an inhabitant of the other world they will not take 
xare of them ? Nay ; but if they who call themselves friends 
are trtily friends, they surely will. 

" Listen, then, Socrates, to us v^^ho have brought you up. 
Think not of life and children first, and of justice afterwards, 
but of justice first, that you may be justified before the 


princes of the world below. For neither will you nor any 
that belong to you be happier or holier or juster in this life, 
or happier in another, if you do as Crito bids. Now you 
depart in innocence, a sufferer and not a doer of evil; 
a victim, not of the laws, but of men. But if you go forth, 
returning evil for evil, and injury for injury, breaking the 
covenants and agreements which you have made with us, 
and wronging those whom you ought least to wrong, that 
is to say, yourself, your friends, your country, and us, we 
shall be angry with you while you live, and our brethren, 
the laws in the world below, will receive you as an enemy; 
for they will know that you have done your best to destroy? 
us. Listen, then, to us and not to Crito." 

This is the voice which I seem to hear murmuring in my 
ears, like the sound of the flute in the ears of the mystic; 
that voice, I say, is humming in my ears, and prevents me 
from hearing any other. And I know that anything more 
which you will say will be in vain. Yet speak, if you have 
anything to say. 

Cr. I have nothing to say, Socrates. 

Soc. Then let me follow the intimations of the will of 


"Pbjedo, who is the narrator of Apollodorus 

the dialogue to Echecrates Simmias 

of Phlius Cebes 

Socrates Crito 

Attendant of the Prison 
Scene: The Prison of Socrates 
Place of the Narration: Phlius 


WERE you yourself, Phaedo, in the prison with Soc- 
rates on the day when he drank the poison ? 
Pkcedo. Yes, Echecrates, I was. 

Ech. I wish that you would tell me about his death. What 
did he say in his last hours? We were informed that he 
died by taking poison, but no one knew anything more ; for no 
Phliasian ever goes to Athens now, and a long time has 
elapsed since any Athenian found his way to Phlius, and 
therefore we had no clear account. 

Phced. Did you not hear of the proceedings at the trial? 

Ech. Yes ; some one told us about the trial, and we could 
not understand why, having been condemned, he was put to 
death, as appeared, not at the time, but long afterwards. 
What was the reason of this ? 

PhcBd. An accident, Echecrates. The reason was that the 
stern of the ship which the Athenians send to Delos happened 
to have been crowned on the day before he was tried. 

Ech. What is this ship? 

Phcsd. This is the ship in which, as the Athenians say, 
Theseus went to Crete when he took with him the fourteen 
youths, and was the saviour of them and of himself. And 
they were said to have vowed to Apollo at the time, that if 
they were saved they would make an annual pilgrimage tQ 



0elos. Now this custom still continues, and the' whole period 
of the voyage to and from Delos, beginning when the priest 
of Apollo crowns the stern of the ship, is a holy season, dur- 
ing which the city is not allowed to be polluted by public 
executions ; and often, when the vessel is detained by adverse 
winds, there may be a very considerable delay. As I was say- 
ing, the ship was crowned on the day before the trial, and 
this was the reason why Socrates lay in prison and was not 
put to death until long after he was condemned. 

Ech. What was the manner of his death, Ph^do? What 
was said or done? And which of his friends had he with 
him? Or were they not allowed by the authorities to be 
present? And did he die alone? 

Phced. No; there were several of his friends with him. 

Ech. If you have nothing to do, I wish that you would tell 
me what passed, as exactly as you can. 

Phcud. I have nothing to do, and will try to gratify your 
wish. For to me, too, there is no greater pleasure than to 
have Socrates brought to my recollection, whether I speak 
myself or hear another speak of him.. 

Ech. You will have listeners who are of the same 
mind with you, and I hope that you will be as exact as 
you can. 

Phced. I remember the strange feeling which came over me 
at being with him. For I could hardly believe that I was 
present at the death of a friend, and therefore I did not pity 
him, Echecrates; his mien and his language were so noble 
and fearless in the hour of death that to me he appeared 
blessed. I thought that in going to the other world he could 
not be without a divine call, and that he would be happy, if 
any man ever was, when he arrived there, and therefore I did 
not pity him as might seem natural at such a time. But 
neither could I feel the pleasure which I usually felt in phil- 
osophical discourse (for philosophy was the theme of which 
we spoke). I was pleased, and I was also pained, because I 
knew that he was soon to die, and this strange mixture of 
feeling was shared by us all ; we were laughing and weeping 
by turns, especially the excitable ApoUodorus — you know the 
sort of man? 

Ech. Yes. 

PH^DO 47 

PlicEd. He was quite overcome ; and I myself, and all of us 
were greatly moved. 

Ech. Who were present? 

Phcsd. Of native Athenians there v/ere, besides Apollo- 
dorus, Critobulus and his father Crito,Hermogenes, Epigenes, 
^schines, and Antisthenes; likewise Ctesippus of the deme 
of Pseania, Menexenus, and some others; but Plato, if I am 
not mistaken, was ill. 

Ech. Were there any strangers? 

Phced. Yes, there were; Sim.mias the Theban, and Cebes, 
and Phsedondes; Euclid and Terpison, w^ho came from Meg- 

Ech. And was Aristippus there, and Cleombrotus ? 

Phced. No, they were said to be in ^gina. 

Ech. Anyone else? 

Phced. I think that these were about all. 

Ech. And what was the discourse of which you spoke? 

Phced. I will begin at the beginning, and endeavor to re- 
peat the entire conversation. You must understand that we 
had been previously in the habit of assembling early in the 
morning at the court in which the trial was held, and which 
is not far from the prison. There we remained talking with 
one another until the opening of the prison doors (for they 
were not opened very early), and then vv^ent in and generally 
passed the day with Socrates. On the last morning the meet- 
ing was earlier than usual ; this was owing to our having heard 
on the previous evening that the sacred ship had arrived from 
Delos, and therefore we agreed to meet very early at the ac- 
customed place. On our going to the prison, the jailer who 
answered the door, instead of admitting us, came out and bade 
us wait and he would call us. " For the Eleven," he said, 
" are now with Socrates ; they are taking off his chains, and 
giving orders that he is to die to-day." He soon returned 
and said that we might come in. On entering we found Soc- 
rates just released from chains, and Xanthippe, whom you 
know, sitting by him, and holding his child in her arms. 
When she saw us she uttered a cry and said, as women 
will : " O Socrates, this is the last time that either you will 
converse with your friends, or they with you." Socrates 
turned to Crito and said : " Crito, let some one take her 


home." Some of Crito's people accordingly led her away, 
crying out and beating herself. And when she was gone, 
Socrates, sitting up on the couch, began to bend and rub his 
leg, saying, as he rubbed : " How singular is the thing called 
pleasure, and how curiously related to pain, which might be 
thought to be the opposite of it; for they never come to a 
man together, and yet he who pursues either of them is gen- 
erally compelled to take the other. They are two, and yet 
they grow together out of one head or stem; and I cannot 
help thinking that if ^sop had noticed them, he would have 
made a fable about God trying to reconcile their strife, and 
when he could not^ he fastened their heads together ; and this 
is the reason why when one comes the other follows, as I 
find in my own case pleasure comes following after the pain 
in my leg, which was caused by the chain." 

Upon this Cebes said: I am very glad indeed, Socrates, 
that you mentioned the name of ^sop. For that reminds me 
of a question which has been asked by others, and was asked 
of me only the day before yesterday by Evenus the poet, and 
as he will be sure to ask again, you may as well tell me what 
I should say to him, if you would like him to have an answer. 
He wanted to know why you who never before wrote a line 
of poetry, now that you are in prison are putting ^sop into 
verse, and also composing that hymn in honor of Apollo. 

Tell him, Cebes, he replied, that I had no idea of rivalling 
him or his poems; which is the truth, for I knew that I 
could not do that. But I wanted to see whether I could 
purge away a scruple which I felt about certain dreams. In 
the course of my life I have often had intimations in dreams 
"that I should make music." The same dream came to me 
sometimes in one form, and sometimes in another, but always 
saying the same or nearly the same words : Make and cultivate 
music, saia the dream. And hitherto I had imagined that 
this was only intended to exhort and encourage me in the 
study of philosophy, which has always been the pursuit of my 
life, and is the noblest and best of music. The dream was bid- 
ding me to do what I was already doing, In the same way that 
the competitor in a race is bidden by the spectators to run 
when he is already running. But I was not certain of this, 
as the dream might have meant music in the popular sense 

PH^DO 49 

of the word, and being under sentence of death, and the festi- 
val giving me a respite, I thought that I should be safer if I 
satisfied the scruple, and, in obedience to the dream, com- 
posed a few verses before I departed. And first I made a 
hymn in honor of the god of the festival, and then consider- 
ing that a poet, if he is really to be a poet or maker, should 
not only put words together but make stories, and as I have 
no invention, I took some fables of ^sop, which I had ready 
at hand and knew, and turned them into verse. Tell Evenus 
this, and bid him be of good cheer; say that I would have 
him come after me if he be a wise man, and not tarry; and 
that to-day I am likely to be going, for the Athenians say 
that I must. 

Simmias said : What a message for such a man ! having 
been a frequent companion of his I should say that, as far 
as I know him, he will never take your advice unless he is 

Why, said Socrates. Is not Evenus a philosopher? 

I think that he is, said Simmias. 

Then he, or any man who has the spirit of philosophy, will 
be willing to die, though he will not take his own life, for 
that is held not to be right. 

Here he changed his position, and put his legs off the couch 
on to the ground, and during the rest of the conversation he 
remained sitting. 

Why do you say, inquired Cebes, that a man ought not to 
take his own life, but that the philosopher will be ready to 
follow the dying? 

Socrates replied: And have you, Cebes and Simmias, who 
are acquainted with Philolaus, never heard him speak of 

I never understood him, Socrates. 

My words, too, are only an echo ; but I am very willing to 
say what I have heard: and indeed, as I am going to another 
place, I ought to be thinking and talking of the nature of the 
pilgrimage which I am about to make. What can I do better 
in the interval between this and the setting of the sun ? 

Then tell me, Socrates, why is suicide held not to be right ? 
as I have certainly heard Philolaus affirm when he was stay- 
ing with us at Thebes: and there are others who say the 


same, although none of them has ever made me tinderstatid 

But do your best, replied Socrates, and the day may come 
when you will understand. I suppose that you wonder why, 
as most things which are evil may be accidentally good, this 
is to be the only exception (for may not death, too, be better 
than life in some cases?), and why, when a man is better 
dead, he is not permitted to be his own benefactor, but must 
wait for the hand of another. 

By Jupiter ! yes, indeed, said Cebes, laughing, and speak- 
ing in his native Doric. 

I admit the appearance of inconsistency, replied Socrates, 
but there may not be any real inconsistency after all in this. 
There is a doctrine uttered in secret that man is a prisoner 
who has no right to open the door of his prison and run away ; 
this is a great mystery which I do not quite understand. Yet 
I, too, believe that the gods are our guardians, and that we 
are a possession of theirs. Do you not agree? 

Yes, I agree to that, said Cebes. 

And if one of your ovv'n possessions, an ox or an ass, for ex- 
ample, took the liberty of putting himself out of the way when 
you had given no intim.ation of your wish that he should die, 
would you not be angry with him, and would you not punish 
him if you could? 

Certainly, replied Cebes. 

Then there may be reason in saying that a man should wait, 
and not take his own life until God summons him, as he is 
now summoning me. 

Yes, Socrates, said Cebes, there is surely reason in that. 
And yet how can you reconcile this seemingly true belief 
that God is our guardian and we his possessions, with that 
willingness to die which we were attributing to the philos- 
opher? That the wisest of men should be willing to leave 
this service in which they are ruled by the gods who are 
the best of rulers is not reasonable, for surely no wise man 
thinks that when set at liberty he can take better care of 
himself than the gods take of him. A fool may perhaps think 
tfiis — ^he may argue that he had better run away from his 
master, not considering that his duty is to remain to the end, 
and not to run away from the good, and that there is no sense 


in his rtinning away. But the wise man will want to be ever 
with hira who is better than himself. Now this, Socrates, is 
the reverse of what was just now said; for upon this vitw 
the wise man should sorrow and the fool rejoice at passing 
out of life. 

The earnestness of Cebes seemed to please Socrates. Here, 
said he, turning to us, is a man who is always inquiring, and 
is not to be convinced all in a moment, nor by every argument. 

And in this case, added Simmias, his objection does ap- 
pear to me to have some force. For what can be the mean- 
ing of a truly wise man wanting to fly away and lightly 
leave a master who is better than himself? And I rather 
imagine that Cebes is referring to you; he thinks that you 
are too ready to leave us, and too ready to leave the gods 
who, as you acknowledge, are our good rulers. 

Yes, replied Socrates; there is reason in that. And this 
indictment you think that I ought to answer as if I were 
in court? 

That is what we should like, said Simmias. 

Then I must try to make a better impression upon you than 
I did when defending myself before the judges. For I am 
quite ready to acknowledge, Simmias and Cebes, that I ought 
to be grieved at death, if I were not persuaded that I am go- 
ing to other gods who are wise and good (of this I am as 
certain as I can be of anything of the sort) and to men de- 
parted (though I am not so certain of this), who are better 
than those whom I leave behind; and therefore I do not 
grieve as I might have done, for I have good hope that there 
is yet something remaining for the dead, and, as has been 
said of old, some far better thing for the good than for the 

But do you mean to take away your thoughts with you, 
Socrates? said Simmias. Will you not communicate them to 
us? — the benefit is one in which we too may hope to share. 
Moreover, if you succeed in convincing us, that will be an 
answer to the charge against yourself. 

I will do m.y best, replied Socrates. But you must first 
let me hear v/hat Crito wants; he was going to say some- 
thing to me. 

Only this, Socrates, replied Crito: the attendant who is to 


give you the poison has been telling me that you are not to 
talk much, and he wants me to let you know this; for that 
by talking heat is increased, and this interferes with the 
action of the poison; those who excite themselves are some- 
times obliged to drink the poison two or three times. 

Then, said Socrates, let him mind his business and be 
prepared to give the poison two or three times, if necessary; 
that is all. 

I was almost certain that you would say that, replied Crito ; 
but I was obliged to satisfy him. 

Never mind him, he said. 

And now I will make answer to you, O my judges, and 
show that he who has lived as a true philosopher has reason 
to be of good cheer when he is about to die, and that after 
death he may hope to receive the greatest good in the other 
world. And how this may be, Simmias and Cebes, I will 
endeavor to explain. For I deem that the true disciple of 
philosophy is likely to be misunderstood by other men; they 
do not perceive that he is ever pursuing death and dying; 
and if this is true, why, having had the desire of death all 
his life long, should he repine at the arrival of that which 
he has been always pursuing and desiring? 

Simmias laughed and said : Though not in a laughing humor 
I swear that I cannot help laughing when I think what the 
wicked world will say when they hear this. They will say 
that this is very true, and our people at home will agree with 
them in saying that the life which philosophers desire is 
truly death, and that they have found them out to be deserv- 
ing of the death which they desire. 

And they are right, Simmias, in saying this, with the ex- 
ception of the words " They have found them out " ; for they 
have not found out what is the nature of this death which the 
true philosopher desires, or how he deserves or desires death. 
But let us leave them and have a word with ourselves : Do we 
believe that there is such a thing as death? 

To be sure, replied Simmias. 

And is this anything but the separation of soul and body? 
And being dead is the attainment of this separation whgn 
the soul exists in herself, and is parted from the body and the 
h<^4y is parted from the soul — that is death? 

PHiEDO 53 

Exactly: that and nothing else, he replied. 

And what do you say of another question, my friend, 
about which I should like to have your opinion, and the an- 
swer to which will probably throw light on our present 
inquiry: Do you think that the philosopher ought to care 
about the pleasures — if they are to be called pleasures — of 
eating and drinking? 

Certainly not, answered Simmias. 

And what do you say of the pleasures of love — should h@ 
care about them? 

By no means. 

And will he think much of the other ways of indulging the 
body — for example, the acquisition of costly raiment, or san- 
dals, or other adornments of the body? Instead of caring 
about them, does he not rather despise anything more than 
nature needs? What do you say? 

I should say the true philosopher would despise them. 

Would you not say that he is entirely concerned with the 
soul and not with the body? He v/ould like, as far as he 
can, to be quit of the body and turn to the soul. 

That is true. 

In matters of this sort philosophers, above all other men, 
may be observed in every sort of way to dissever the soul 
from the body. 

That is true. 

Whereas, Simmias, the rest of the world are of opinion 
that a life which has no bodily pleasures and no part in 
them is not worth having; but that he who thinks nothing 
of bodily pleasures is almost as though he were dead. 

That is quite true. 

What again shall we say of the actual requirement of 
knowledge? — is the body, if invited to share in the inquiry, 
a hinderer or a helper ? I mean to say, have sight and hear- 
ing any truth in them? Are they not, as the poets are 
always telling us, inaccurate witnesses ? and yet, if even they 
are inaccurate and indistinct, what is to be said of the 
other senses? — for you will allow that they are the best of 

Certainly, he replied. 

Then when does the soul attain truth?— for in attempting 


to consider anything in company with the body she is ob- 
viously deceived. 

Yes, that is true. 

Then must not existence be revealed to her in thought, if 
at all? 


And thought is best when the mind is gathered into herself 
and none of these things trouble her — neither sounds nor 
sights nor pain nor any pleasure — when she has as little as 
possible to do v/ith the body, and has no bodily sense or 
feeling, but is aspiring after being? 

That is true. 

And in this the philosopher dishonors the body; his soul 
runs away from the body and desires to be alone and by 
herself ? 

That is true. 

Well, but there is another thing, Simmias: Is there or is 
there not an absolute justice? 

Assuredly there is. 

And an absolute beauty and absolute good ? 

Of course. 

But did you ever behold any of them with your eyes ? 

Certainly not. 

Or did you ever reach them with any other bodily sense? 
(and I speak not of these alone, but of absolute greatness, 
and health and strength, and of the essence or true nature 
of everything). Has the reality of, them ever been perceived 
by you through the bodily organs? or rather, is not the 
nearest approach to the knowledge of their several natures 
made hy him who so orders his intellectual vision as to have 
the most exact conception of the essence of that which he 
considers ? 


And he attains to the knowledge of them in their highest 
purity who goes to each of them with the mind alone, not 
allowing when in the act of thought the intrusion or intro- 
duction of sight or any other sense in the company of reason, 
but v/ith the very light of the mind in her clearness penetrates 
into the very light of truth in each; he has got rid, as far 
as he can, of eyes and ears and of the whole body, which he 

PH^DO 55 

conceives of only as a disturbing element, hindering the 
soul from the acquisition of knowledge when in company 
with her — is not this the sort of man who, if ever man did, 
is likely to attain the knowledge of existence ? 

There is admirable truth in that, Socrates, replied 

And when they consider all this, must not true philoso- 
phers make a reflection, of which they will speak to one 
another in such words as these: We have found, they will 
say, a path of speculation which seem.s to bring us and the 
argument to the conclusion that while we are in the body, 
and while the soul is mingled with this mass of evil, our 
desire will not be satisfied, and our desire is of the truth. 
For the body is a source of endless trouble to us by reason 
of the mere requirement of food; and also is liable to diseases 
which overtake and impede us in the search after truth: 
and by filling us so full of loves, and lusts, and fears, and 
fancies, and idols, and every sort of folly, prevents out ever 
having, as people say^ so much as a thought. For whence 
come wars, and fightings, and factions? whence btit from 
the body and the lusts of the body ? For wars are occasioned 
by the love of money, and money has to be acquired for the 
sake and in the service of the body ; and in consequence of all 
these things the time which ought to be given to philosophy is 
lost. Moreover, if there is time and an inclination tov/ard 
philosophy, yet the body introduces a turmoil and confusion 
and fear into the course of speculation, and hinders ua from 
seeing the truth : and all experience shows that if we would 
have pure knowledge of anything we must be quit of the 
body, and the soul in herself must behold all things in them- 
selves: then I suppose that we shall attain that which we 
desire, and of which we say that we are lovers, and that is 
wisdom, not while we live, but after death, as the argument 
shows; for if wdiile in company with the body the soul 
cannot have pure knowledge, one of two things seems to 
follow — either knowledge is not to be attained at all, or, 
if at all, after death. For then, and not till then, the soul 
will be in herself alone and without the body. In this present 
life, I reckon that we make the nearest approach to knowl- 
edge when we have the least possible concern or interes' 


in the body, and are not saturated with the bodily nature, 
but remain pure until the hour when God himself is pleased 
to release us. And when the foolishness of the body will be 
cleared away and we shall be pure and hold converse with 
other pure souls, and know of ourselves the clear light every- 
where; and this is surely the light of truth. For no impure 
thing is allowed to approach the pure. These are the sort 
of words, Simmias, which the true lovers of wisdom cannot 
help saying to one another, and thinking. You will agree 
with me in that? 

Certainly, Socrates. 

But if this is true, O my friend, then there is great hope 
that, going whither I go, I shall there be satisfied with that 
which has been the chief concern of you and me in our past 
lives. And now that the hour of departure is appointed to 
me, this is the hope with which I depart, and not I only, 
but every man who believes that he has his mind purified. 

Certainly, replied Simmias. 

And what is purification but the separation of the soul 
from the body, as I was saying before ; the habit of the soul 
gathering and collecting herself into herself, out of all the 
courses of the body; the dwelling in her own place alone, 
as in another life, so also in this, as far as she can; the re- 
lease of the soul from the chains of the body ? 

Very true, he said. 

And what is that which is termed death, but this very sepa- 
ration and release of the soul from the body? 

To be sure, he said. 

And the true philosophers, and they only, study and are 
eager to release the soul. Is not the separation and release 
of the soul from the body their especial study? 

That is true. 

And as I was saying at first, there v/ould be a ridiculous 
contradiction in men studying to live as nearly as they can 
in a state of death, and yet repining when death comes. 


Then, Simmias, as the true philosophers are ever studying 
'death, to them, of all men, death is the least terrible. Look 
at the matter in this way : how inconsistent of them to have 
been always enemies of the body^ and wanting to have the 

PH^DO 57 

soul alone, and when this is granted to them, to be trembling 
and repining; instead of rejoicing at their departing to that 
place where, when they arrive, they hope to gain that which 
in life they loved (and this was wisdom), and at the same 
time to be rid of the company of their enemy. Many a 
man has been willing to go to the world below in the hope 
of seeing there an earthly love, or wife, or son, and con- 
versing VN^ith them. And will he who is a true lover of 
wisdom, and is persuaded in like manner that only in the 
,world below he can worthily enjoy her, still repine at death? 
Will he not depart with joy? Surely he will, my friend, if 
he be a true philosopher. For he will have a firm convic- 
tion that there only, and nowhere else, he can find wisdom 
in her purity. And if this be true, he would be very absurd, 
as I was saying, if he were to fear death. 

He would, indeed, replied Simmias. 

And when you see a man who is repining at the approach 
of death, is not his reluctance a sufficient proof that he is not 
a lover of wisdom, but a lover of the body, and probably at 
the same time a lover of either money or power, or both? 

That is very true, he replied. 

There is a virtue, Simmias, which is named courage. Is 
not that a special attribute of the philosophy. 


Again, there is temperance. Is not the calm, and control, 
and disdain of the passions which even the many call tem- 
perance, a quality belonging only to those who despise the 
body and live in philosophy? 

That is not to be denied. 

For the courage and temperance of other men, if you will 
consider them, are really a contradiction. 

How is that, Socrates? 

Well, he said, you are aware that death is regarded by 
tnen in general as a great evil. 

That is true, he said. 

And do not courageous men endure death because they are 
afraid of yet greater evils? 

That is true. 

Then all but the philosophers are courageous only from 
fear, and because they are afraid ; and yet that a man should 


be courageous from fear, and because he is a coward, is 
surely a strange thing. 

Very true. 

And are not the temperate exactly in the same case? 
They are temperate because they are intemperate — which 
may seem to be a contradiction, but is nevertheless the sort 
of thing which happens with this foolish temperance; For 
there are pleasures which they must have, and are afraid 
of losing; and therefore they abstain from one class of 
pleasures because they are overcome by another : and whereas 
intemperance is defined as " being under the dominion of 
pleasure," they overcome only because they are overcome 
by pleasure. And that is what I mean by saying that they 
are temperate through intemperance. 

That appears to be true. 

Yet the exchange of one fear or pleasure or pain for 
another fear or pleasure or pain, which are measured like 
coins, the greater with the less, is not the exchange of virtue. 
O my dear Simmias, is there not one true coin for which 
all things ought to exchange ? — and that is wisdom ; and only 
in exchange for this, and in company with this, is anything 
truly bought or sold, whether courage or temperance or 
justice. And is not all true virtue the companion of wisdom, 
no matter what fears or pleasures or other similar goods or 
evils may not attend her? But the virtue which is made 
up of these goods, when they are severed from wisdom 
and exchanged with one another, is a shadow of virtue only, 
nor is there any freedom or health or truth in her; but in 
the true exchange there is a purging away of all these things, 
and temperance, and justice, and courage, and wisdom her- 
self are a purgation of them. And I conceive that the found- 
ers of the mysteries had a real m-caning and were not mere 
triflers when they intimated in a figure long ago that he who 
passed unsanctified and uninitiated into the w^orld below 
w-ill live in a slough, but that he who arrives there after 
initiation and purification will dwell with the gods. For 
" many," as they say in the mysteries, *' are the thyrsus bear- 
ers, but few are the mystics," — meaning, as I interpret the 
words, the true philosophers. In the number of whom I 
have been seeking, according to my ability, to find a $lace 

PHiEDO 59 

during my whole life; whether I have sought in a right 
way or not, and whether I have succeeded or not, I shall 
truly know in a little while, if God will, when I myself arrive 
in the other world: that is my belief. And now, Simmias 
and Cebes, I have answered those who charge me v/ith not 
grieving or repining at parting from you and my masters 
in this world; and I am right in not repining, for I believe 
that I shall find other masters and friends who are as good 
in the world below. But all men cannot receive this, and 
I shall be glad if my words have any more success with you 
than with the judges of Athenians. 

Cebes answered: I agree, Socrates, in the greater part of 
what you say. But in what relates to the soul, men are apt 
to be incredulous; they fear that when she leaves the body 
her place miay be nowhere, and that on the very day of death 
she may be destroyed and perish — immediately on her release 
from the body, issuing forth like smoke or air and vanishing 
away into nothingness. For if she could only hold together 
and be herself after she was released from the evils of the 
body, there would be good reason to hope, Socrates, that 
what you say is true. But much persuasion and miany argu- 
ments are required in order to prove that when the man is 
dead the soul yet exists, and has any force of intelligence. 

True, Cebes, said Socrates; and shall I suggest that we 
talk a little of the probabilities of these things? 

I am sure, said Cebes, that I should greatly like to know 
your opinion about them. 

I reckon, said Socrates, that no one who heard me now, 
not even if he were one of my old enemies, the comic poets, 
could accuse me of idle talking about matters in which I 
have no concern. Let us, then, if you please, proceed with 
the inquiry. 

Whether the souls of men after death are or are not in 
the world below, is a question which may be argued in this 
manner. The ancient doctrine of which I have been speak- 
ing affirms that they go from this into the other world, and 
return hither, and are born from the dead. Now if this be 
true, and the living come from the dead, then our souls must 
be in the other world, for if not, how could they be born 
again? And this ;would be conclusive, if there were an^ 


real evidence that the living are only born from the dead; 
but if there is no evidence of this, then other arguments 
will have to be adduced. 

That is very true, replied Cebes. 

Then let us consider this question, not in relation to man 
only, but in relation to animals generally, and to plants, and 
to everything of which there is generation, and the proof 
will be easier. Are not all things which have opposites 
generated out of their opposites? I mean such things as 
good and evil, just and unjust — and there are innumerable 
other opposites which are generated out of opposites. And 
I want to show that this holds universally of all opposites; 
I mean to say, for example, that anything which becomes 
greater must become greater after being less. 


And that which becomes less must have been once greater 
and then become less. 


And the weaker is generated from the stronger, and the 
swifter from the slower. 

Very true. 

And the worse is from the better, and the more just is 
from the more unjust? 

Of course. 

And is this true of all opposites? and are we convinced 
that all of them are generated out of opposites ? 


And in this universal opposition of all things, are there not 
also two intermediate processes which are ever going on, 
from one to the other, and back again; where there is a 
greater and a less there is also an intermediate process of 
increase and diminution, and that which grows is said to 
wax, and that which decays to wane? 

Yes, he said. 

And there are many other processes, such as division and 
composition, cooling and heating, which equally involve a 
passage into and out of one another. And this holds of all 
opposites, even though not always expressed in words — they 
are generated out of one another, and there is a passing or 
process from one to the other of them? 

PH^DO 61 

Very true, he replied. 

Well, and is there not an opposite of life, as sleep is the 
opposite of waking? 

True, he said. 

And what is that? 

Death, he answered. 

And these, then, are generated, if they are opposites, the 
one from the other, and have there their two intermediate 
processes also? 

Of course. 

Now, said Socrates, I will analyze one of the two pairs of 
opposites which I have mentioned to you, and also its inter- 
mediate processes, and you shall analyze the other to me. 
The state of sleep is opposed to the state of waking, and out 
of sleeping waking is generated, and out of waking, sleeping, 
and the process of generation is in the one case falling asleep, 
and in the other waking up. Are you agreed about that? 

Quite agreed. 

Then suppose that you analyze life and death to me in the 
same manner. Is not death opposed to life? 


And they are generated one from the other ? 


What is generated from life? 


And what from death? 

I can only say in answer — life. 

Then the living, whether things or persons, Cebes, are 
generated from the dead? 

That is clear, he replied. 

Then the inference is, that our souls are in the world 
below ? 

That is true. 

And one of the two processes or generations is visible — 
for surely the act of dying is visible? 

Surely, he said. 

And may not the othef 1)e inferred as the complement of 
nature, who is not to be supposed to go on one leg only? 
And if not, a corresponding process of generation in death 
must also be assigned to her^ 


Certainly, he replied. 

And what is that process ? 


And revival, if there be such a thing, is the birth of the 
dead into the world of the living? 

Quite true. 

Then there is a new way in which we arrive at the infer- 
ence that the living come from the dead, just as the dead 
come from the living; and if this is true, then the souls of 
the dead must be in some place out of which they come 
again. And this, as I think, has been satisfactorily proved. 

Yes, Socrates, he said; all this seems to flow necessarily 
out of our previous admissions. 

And that these admissions are not unfair, Cebes, he said, 
may be shown, as I think, in this way : If generation were in 
a straight line only, and there were no compensation or circle 
in nature, no turn or return into one another, then you know 
that all things would at last have the same form and pass 
into the same state, and there would be no more generation 
of them. . 

What do you mean? he said. 

A simple thing enough, which I will illustrate by the case 
of sleep, he replied. You know that if there were no com- 
pensation of sleeping and waking, the story of the sleeping 
Endymion would in the end have no meaning, because all 
other things would be asleep, too, and he would not be 
thought of. Or if there were composition only, and no 
division of substances, then the chaos of Anaxagoras w^ould 
come again. And in like manner, my dear Cebes, if all 
things which partook of life were to die, and after they were 
dead remained in the form of death, and did not come to 
life again, all would at last die, and nothing would be alive — 
how could this be otherwise ? For if the living spring from 
any others who are not the dead, and they die, must not 
all things at last be swallowed up in death ? 

There is no escape from that, Socrates, said Cebes; and I 
think that what you say is entirely true. 

Yes, he said, Cebes, I entirely think so, too; and we are 
not v/alking in a vain imagination; but I am confident in 
the belief that there truly is such a thing as living again, and 

PHiEDO 63 

that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of 
the dead are in existence, and that the good souls have a 
better portion than the evil. 

Cebes added : Your favorite doctrine, Socrates, that knowl- 
edge is simply recollection, if true, also necessarily implies a 
previous time in which we learned that which we now recol- 
lect. But this would be impossible unless our soul was in 
som.e place before existing in the human form; here, then, 
is another argument of the soul's immortality. 

But tell me, Cebes, said Simmias, interposing, what proofs 
are given of this doctrine of recollection? I am not very 
sure at this moment that I remember them. 

One excellent proof, said Cebes, is afforded by questions, 
if you put a question to a person in a right way, he will give 
a true answer of himself; but how could he do this unless 
there were knowledge and right reason already in him ? And 
this is most clearly shown when he is taken to a diagram or 
to anything of that sort. 

But if, said Socrates, you are still incredulous, Simmias, 
I would ask you whether you may not agree with me when 
you look at the matter in another way; I mean, if you are 
still incredulous as to whether knowledge is recollection? 

Incredulous, I am not, said Simmias; but I want to have 
this doctrine of recollection brought to my own recollection, 
and, from v/hat Cebes has said, I am beginning to recollect 
and be convinced; but I should still like to hear what more 
you have to say. 

This is what I would say, he replied : We should agree, if 
I am not mistaken, that what a man recollects he must have 
known at some previous time. 

Very true. 

And what is the nature of this recollection? And, in ask- 
ing this, I mean to ask whether, v/hen a person has already 
seen or heard or in any way perceived anything, and he 
knows not only that, but something else of which he has 
not the same, but another knowledge, we may not fairly say 
that he recollects that which comes into his mind. Are we 
agreed about that? 

What do you mean? 

I mean what I may illustrate by the following instance: 


The knowledge of a lyre is not the same as the knowledge 
of a man? 


And yet what is the feeling of lovers when they recognize 
a lyre, or a garment, or anything else which the beloved has 
been in the habit of using? Do not they, from knowing the 
lyre, form in the mind's eye an image of the youth to whom 
the lyre belongs? And this is recollection: and in the same 
way any one who sees Simmias may remember Cebes; and 
there are endless other things of the same nature. 

Yes, indeed, there are — endless, replied Simmias. 

And this sort of thing, he said, is recollection, and is most 
commonly a process of recovering that which has been for- 
gotten through time and inattention. 

Very true, he said. 

Well; and may you not also from seeing the picture of a 
horse or a lyre remember a man? and from the picture of 
Simmias, you may be led to remember Cebes ? 


Or you may also be led to the recollection of Simmias him- 

True, he said. 

And in all these cases, the recollection may be derived 
from things either like or unlike? 

That is true. 

And when the recollection is derived from like things, then 
there is sure to be another question, which is, Whether the 
likeness of that which is recollected is in any way defective 
or not? 

Very true, he said. 

And shall we proceed a step further, and affirm that there 
is such a thing as equality, not of wood with wood, or of 
stone with stone, but that, over and above this, there is 
equality in the abstract? Shall we affirm this? 

Affirm, yes, and swear to it, replied Simmias, with all the 
confidence in life. 

And do we know the nature of this abstract essence? 

To be sure, he said. 

And whence did we obtain this knowledge? Did we not 
see equalities of material things, such as pieces of wood and 

PHiEDO 65 

stones, and gather from them the idea of an equality which 
is different from them? — you will admit that? Or look at 
the matter again in this way: Do not the same pieces of 
wood or stone appear at one time, equal and at another time 
unequal ? 

That is certain. 

But are real equals ever unequal ? or is the idea of equality 
ever inequality? 

That surely was never yet known, Socrates. 

Then these (so-called) equals are not the same with the 
idea of equality? 

I should say, clearly not, Socrates. 

And yet from these equals, although differing from the 
idea of equality, you conceived and attained that idea ? 

Very true, he said. 

Which might be like, or might be unlike them? 


But that makes no difference; whenever from seeing one 
thing you conceived another, whether like or unlike, there 
must surely have been an act of recollection? 

Very true. 

But what would you say of equal portions of wood and 
stone, or other material equals? and what is the impression 
produced by them ? Are they equals in the same sense as ' 
absolute equality ? or do they fall short of this in a measure ? 

Yes, he said, in a very great measure, too. 

And must we not allow that when I or any one look at 
any object, and perceive that the object aims at being some 
other thing, but falls short of, and cannot attain to it — he who 
makes this observation must have had previous knowledge of 
that to which, as he says, the other, although similar, was 
inferior ? 


And has not this been our case in the matter of equals 
and of absolute equality? 


Then we must have known absolute equality previously to 
the time when we first saw the material equals, and reflected 
that all these apparent equals aim at this absolute equality, 
but fall short of it? 

3 HC— Vol. 2 


That is true. 

And we recognize also that this absolute equality has only 
been known, and can only be known, through the medium of 
sight or touch, or of some other sense. And this I would 
affirm of all such conceptions. 

Yes, Socrates, as far as the argument is concerned, one of 
them is the sam.e as the other. 

And from the senses, then, is derived the knowledge that 
all sensible things aim at an idea of equality of which they 
fall short — is not that true? 


Then before we began to see or hear or perceive in any 
way, we must have had a knowledge of absolute equality, or 
we could not have referred to that the equals which are 
derived from the senses — for to that they all aspire, and of 
that they fall short? 

That, Socrates, is certainly to be inferred from the previous 

And did we not see and hear and acquire our other senses 
as soon as we v/ere born? 


Then we must have acquired the knowledge of the ideal 
equal at some time previous to this? 


That is to say, before we were born, I suppose? 


And if we acquired this knowledge before we were born, 
and were born having it, then we also knew before we were 
born and at the instant of birth not only equal or the greater 
or the less, but all other ideas ; for we are not speaking only 
of equality absolute, but of beauty, good, justice, holiness, and 
all which we stamp with the name of essence in the dialectical 
process, when we ask and answer questions. Of all this we 
may certainly affirm that we acquired the knowledge before 
birth ? 

That is true. 

Eut if, after having acquired, we have not forgotten tliat 
which we acquired, then we must always have been born 
with knowledge, and shall always continue to know as long 
as life lasts — for knowing is the acquiring and retaining 

PHiEDO 67 

knowledge and not forgetting. Is not forgetting, Simmias, 
just the losing of knowledge? 

Quite true, Socrates. 

But if the knowledge which we acquired before birth was 
lost by us at birth, and afterwards by the use of the senses 
we recovered that which we previously knew, will not that 
which we call learning be a process of recovering our know- 
ledge, and may not this be rightly termed recollection by us ? 

Very true. 

For this is clear, that when we perceived something, either 
by the help of sight or hearing, or some other sense, there was 
no difficulty in receiving from this a conception of some 
other thing like or unlike which had been forgotten and which 
was associated with this; and therefore, as I was saying, 
one of two alternatives follow : either we had this knowledge 
at birth, and continued to know through life; or, after birth, 
those who are said to learn only remember, and learning is 
recollection only. 

Yes, that is quite true, Socrates. 

And which alternative, Simmias, do you prefer? Had we 
the knowledge at our birth^ or did we remember afterwards 
the things which we knew previously to our birth ? 

I cannot decide at the moment. 

At any rate you can decide whether he who has knowledge 
ought or ought not to be able to give a reason for what he 

Certainly, he ought. 

But do you think that every man is able to give a reason 
about these very matters of which we are speaking? 

I wish that they could, Socrates, but I greatly fear that to- 
morrow at this time there will be no one able to give a reason 
worth having. 

Then you are not of opinion, Simmias, that all men know 
these things? 

Certainly not. 

Then they are In process of recollecting that which they 
learned before. 


But when did our souls acquire this knowledge ? — not since 
we were born as men? 



Certainly not. 

And therefore previously? 


Then, Simmias, our souls must have existed before they 
were in the form of man — without bodies, and must have had 
intelligence ? 

Unless indeed you suppose, Socrates, that these notions 
were given us at the moment of birth; for this is the only 
time that remains. 

Yes, my friend, but when we did lose them? for they are 
not in us when we are born — that is admitted. Did we lose 
them at the moment of receiving them, or at some other time ? 

No, Socrates, I perceive that I was unconsciously talking 

Then may we not say, Simmias, that if, as we are always 
repeating, there is an absolute beauty, and goodness, and es- 
sence in general, and to this, which is now discovered to be 
a previous condition of our being, we refer all our sensations, 
and with this compare them — assuming this to have a prior 
existence, then our souls must have had a prior existence, 
but if not, there would be no force in the argument. There 
can be no doubt that if these absolute ideas existed before we 
were born, then our souls must have existed before we were 
born, and if not the ideas, then not the souls. 

Yes, Socrates; I am convinced that there is precisely the 
Same necessity for the existence of the soul before birth, and 
of the essence of which you are speaking: and the argument 
arrives at a result which happily agrees with my own notion. 
For there is nothing which to my mind is so evident as that 
beauty, good, and other notions of which you were just now 
speaking have a most real and absolute existence; and I am 
Satisfied with the proof. 

Well, but is Cebes equally satisfied? for I must convince 
him too. 

I think, said Simmias, that Cebes Is satisfied : although he is 
the most incredulous of mortals, yet I believe that he is con- 
vinced of the existence of the soul before birth. But that 
after death the soul will continue to exist is not yet proven 
even to my own satisfaction. I cannot get rid of the feeling 
of the many to which Cebes was referring— the feeling that 

PHiEDO 69 

when the man dies the soul may be scattered, and that this 
may be the end of her. For admitting that she may be gen- 
erated and created in some other place, and may have existed 
before entering the human body, why after having entered in 
and gone out again may she not herself be destroyed and 
come to an end? 

Very true, Simmias, said Cebes; that our soul existed be- 
fore we were born was the first half of the argument, and 
this appears to have been proven; that the soul will exist 
after death as well as before birth is the other half of which 
the proof is still wanting, and has to be supplied. 

But that proofs Simmias and Cebes, has been already given 
said Socrates, if you put the two arguments together — I 
mean this and the former one, in which we admitted that 
everything living is born of the dead. For if the soul existed 
before birth, and in coming to life and being born can be 
born only from death and dying, must she not after death 
continue to exist, since she has to be born again? surely the 
proof which your desire has been already furnished. Still 
I suspect that you and Simmias would be glad to probe the 
argument further; like children, you are haunted with a fear 
that when the soul leaves the body, the wind may really blow 
her away and scatter her ; especially if a man should happen 
to die in stormy weather and not when the sky is calm. 

Cebes answered with a smile: Then, Socrates, you must 
argue us out of our fears — and yet, strictly speaking, they 
are not our fears, but there is a child within us to whom 
death is a sort of hobgoblin; him too we laust persuade not 
to be afraid when he is alone with him in the dark. 

Socrates said: Let the voice of the charmer be applied 
daily until you have charmed him away. 

And where shall we find a good charmer of our fears, 
Socrates, when you are gone? 

Hellas, he replied, is a large place, Cebes, and has many 
good men, and there are barbarous races not a few: seek 
for him among them all, far and wide, sparing neither pains 
nor money ; for there is no better way of using your money. 
And you must not forget to seek for him among yourselves 
too ; for he is nowhere more likely to be found. 

The search, replied Cebes, shall certainly be made. And 


now, if you please, let us return to the point of the argument 
at which we digressed. 

By all means, replied Socrates ; what else should I please ? 

Very good, he said. 

Must we not, said Socrates, ask ourselves some question 
of this sort? — What is that which, as we imagine, is liable 
to be scattered away, and about which we fear? and what 
again is that about which we have no fear ? And then we may 
proceed to inquire whether that which suffers dispersion is 
or is not of the nature of soul — our hopes and fears as to 
our own souls will turn upon that. 

That is true, he said. 

Now the compound or composite may be supposed to be 
naturally capable of being dissolved in like manner as of be- 
ing compounded; but that which is uncompounded, and that 
only, must be, if anything is, indissoluble. 

Yes; that is what I should imagine, said Cebes. 

And the uncompounded may be assumed to be the same and 
unchanging, where the compound is always changing and 
never the same? 

That I also think, he said. 

Then now let us return to the previous discussion. Is that 
idea or essence, which in the dialectical process we define 
as essence of true existence — whether essence of equality, 
beauty, or anything else: are these essences, I say, liable at 
times to some degree of change? or are they each of them 
always what they are, having the same simple, self-existent 
and unchanging forms, and not admitting of variation at all, 
or in any way, or at any time? 

They must be always the same, Socrates, replied Cebes. 

And what would you say of the many beautiful — whether 
men or horses or garments or any other things which may 
be called equal or beautiful — are they all unchanging 
and the same always, or quite the reverse? May they 
not rather be described as almost alv^^ays changing and 
hardly ever the same either with themselves or with one 
another ? 

The latter, replied Cebes; they are always in a state of 

And these you can touch and see and perceive with the 

PHiEDO 71 

senses, but the unchanging things you can only perceive with 
the mind — ^they are invisible and are not seen ? 

That is very true, he said. 

Well, then, he added, let us suppose that there are two 
sorts of existences, one seen, the other unseen. 

Let us suppose them. 

The seen is the changing, and the unseen is the unchanging. 

That may be also supposed. 

And, further, is not one part of us body, and the rest of 
us soul? 

To be sure. 

And to which class may we say that the body is more alike 
and akin? 

Clearly to the seen : no one can doubt that. 

And is the soul seen or not seen? 

Not by man, Socrates. 

And by " seen " and " not seen " is meant by us that which 
is or is not visible to the eye of man? 

Yes, to the eye of man. 

And what do we say of the soul ? is that seen or not seen ? 

Not seen. 

Unseen then? 


Then the soul is more like to the unseen, and the body to 
the seen? 

That is most certain, Socrates. 

And were we not saying long ago that the soul when using 
the body as an instrument of perception, that is to say, when 
using the sense of sight or hearing or some other sense (for 
the meaning of perceiving through the body is perceiving 
through the senses) — were we not saying that the soul too 
is then dragged by the body into the region of the change- 
able, and wanders and is confused; the world spins round 
her, and she is like a drunkard when under their influence ? 

Very true. 

But when returning into herself she reflects; then she 
passes into the realm of purity, and eternity, and immortality, 
and unchangeableness, which are her kindred, and with them 
she ever lives, when she is by herself and is not let or hin- 
dered; then she ceases from her erring ways, and being in 


communion with the unchanging is unchanging. And this 
state of the soul is called wisdom ? 

That is well and truly said, Socrates, he replied. 

And to which class is the soul more nearly alike and akin, 
as far as may be inferred from this argument, as well as from 
the preceding one? 

I think, Socrates, that^ in the opinion of every one who fol- 
lows the argument, the soul will be infinitely more like the un- 
changeable — even the most stupid person will not deny that. 

And the body is more like the changing? 


Yet once more consider the matter in this light : When the 
soul and the body are united, then nature orders the soul to 
rule and govern, and the body to obey and serve. 

Now which of these two functions is akin to the divine? 
and which to the mortal ? Does not the divine appear to you 
to be that which naturally orders and rules, and the mortal 
that which is subject and servant? 


And which does the soul resemble ? 

The soul resembles the divine and the body the mortal — 
there can be no doubt of that, Socrates. 

Then reflect, Cebes : is not the conclusion of the whole mat- 
ter this — that the soul is in the very likeness of the divine, 
and immortal, and intelligible, and uniform, and indissoluble, 
and unchangeable ; and the body is in the very likeness of the 
human, and mortal, and unintelligible, and multiform, and 
dissoluble, and changeable. Can this, my dear Cebes, be 
denied ? 

No, indeed. 

But if this is true, then is not the body liable to speedy 
dissolution? and is not the soul almost or altogether indis- 
soluble ? 


And do you further observe, that after a man is dead, the 
body, which is the visible part of man, and has a visible 
framework, which is called a corpse, and which would nat- 
urally be dissolved and decomposed and dissipated, is not 
dissolved or decomposed at once, but may remain for a good 
while, if the constitution be sound at the time of death, and 

PH^DO 73 

the season of the year favorable ? For the body when shrunk 
and embalmed, as is the custom in Egypt, may remain almost 
entire through infinite ages ; and even in decay, still there are 
some portions, such as the bones and ligaments, which are 
practically indestructible. You allow that? 


And are we to suppose that the soul, which is invisible, in 
passing to the true Hades, which like her is invisible, and 
pure, and noble, and on her way to the good and wise God, 
whither, if God will, my soul is also soon to go — ^that the 
soul, I repeat, if this be her nature and origin, is blown away 
and perishes immediately on quitting the body as the many 
say? That can never be, dear Simmias and Cebes. The 
truth rather is that the soul which is pure at departing draws 
after her no bodily taint, having never voluntarily had con- 
nection with the body, which she is ever avoiding, herself 
gathered into herself (for such abstraction has been the study 
of her life). And what does this mean but that she has been 
a true disciple of philosophy and has practised how to die 
easily? And is not philosophy the practice of death? 


That soul, I say, herself invisible, departs to the invisible 
world — to the divine and immortal and rational : thither arriv- 
ing, she lives in bliss and is released from the error and 
folly of men, their fears and wild passions and all other 
human ills, and forever dwells, as they say of the initiated, 
in company with the gods. Is not this true, Cebes? 

Yes, said Cebes, beyond a doubt. 

But the soul which has been polluted, and is impure at the 
time of her departure, and is the companion and servant of 
the body always, and is in love with and fascinated by the 
body and by the desires and pleasures of the body, until she 
is led to believe that the truth only exists in a bodily form, 
which a man may touch and see and taste and use for the pur- 
poses of his lusts — the soul, I mean, accustomed to hate and 
fear and avoid the intellectual principle, which to the bodily 
eye is dark and invisible, and can be attained only by philos- 
ophy — do you suppose that such a soul as this will depart 
pure and unalloyed? 

That is impossible, he replied. 


She is engrossed by the corporeal, which the continual as- 
sociation and constant care of the body have made natural 
to her. 

Very true. 

And this, my friend, may be conceived to be that heavy, 
weighty, earthy element of sight by which such a soul is 
depressed and dragged down again into the visible world, be- 
cause she is afraid of the invisible and of the world below — 
prowling about tombs and sepulchres, in the neighborhood of 
which, as they tell us, are seen certain ghostly apparitions 
of souls which have not departed pure, but are cloyed with 
sight and therefore visible. 

That is very likely, Socrates. 

Yes, that is very likely, Cebes ; and these must be the souls, 
not of the good, but of the evil, who are compelled to wander 
about such places in payment of the penalty of their former 
evil way of life ; and they continue to wander until the desire 
which haunts them is satisfied and they are imprisoned in 
another body. And they may be supposed to be fixed in the 
same natures which they had in their former life. 

What natures do you mean, Socrates? 

I mean to say that men who have followed after gluttony, 
and wantonness, and drunkenness, and have had no thought 
of avoiding them, would pass into asses and animals of that 
sort. What do you think? 

I think that exceedingly probable. 

And those who have chosen the portion of injustice, and 
tyranny, and violence, will pass into wolves, or hawks, and 
kites ; whither else can we suppose them to go ? 

Yes, said Cebes ; that is doubtless the place of natures such 
as theirs. 

And there is no difficulty, he said, in assigning to all of 
them places answering to their several natures and pro- 
pensities ? 

There is not, he said. 

Even among them some are happier than others; and the 
happiest both in themselves and their place of abode are those 
who have practised the civil and social virtues which are 
called temperance and justice, and are acquired by habit and 
attention without philosophy and mind. 

PHiEDO 75 

Why are they the happiest? 

Because they may be expected to pass into some gentle, 
social nature which is hke their own, such as that of bees or 
ants, or even back again into the form of man, and just and 
moderate men spring from them. 

That is not impossible. 

But he who is a philosopher or lover of learning, and is 
entirely pure at departing, is alone permitted to reach the 
gods. And this is the reason, Simmias and Cebes, why the 
true votaries of philosophy abstain from all fleshly lusts, 
and endure and refuse to give themselves up to them — not 
because they fear poverty or the ruin of their families, like 
the lovers of money, and the world in general; nor like the 
lovers of power and honor, because they dread the dishonor 
or disgrace of evil deeds. 

No, Socrates, that would not become them, said Cebes. 

No, indeed, he replied; and therefore they who have a 
care of their souls, and do not merely live in the fashions 
of the body, say farewell to all this ; they will not walk in 
the ways of the blind: and when Philosophy offers them 
purification and release from evil, they feel that they ought 
not to resist her influence, and to her they incline, and 
whither she leads they follow her. 

What do you mean, Socrates ? 

I will tell you, he said. The lovers of knowledge are con- 
scious that their souls, when philosophy receives them, are 
simply fastened and glued to their bodies: the soul is only 
able to view existence through the bars of a prison, and not 
in her own nature; she is wallowing in the mire of all 
ignorance; and philosophy, seeing the terrible nature of her 
confinement, and that the captive through desire is led to 
conspire in her own captivity (for the lovers of knowledge 
are aware that this was the original state of the soul, and 
that when she was in this state philosophy received and 
gently counseled her, and wanted to release her, pointing 
out to her that the eye is full of deceit, and also the ear and 
other senses, and persuading her to retire from them in all 
but the necessary use of them and to be gathered up and 
collected into herself, and to trust only to herself and her 
own intuitions of absolute existence, and mistrust that which 


comes to her through others and is subject to vicissitude) — 
philosophy shows her that this is visible and tangible, but 
that what she sees in her own nature is intellectual and in- 
visible. And the soul of the true philosopher thinks that 
she ought not to resist this deliverance, and therefore ab- 
stains from pleasures and desires and pains and fears, as 
far as she is able; reflecting that when a man has great joys 
or sorrows or fears or desires he suffers from them, not 
the sort of evil which might be anticipated — as, for example, 
the loss of his health or property, ,which he has sacrificed 
to his lusts — but he has suffered an evil greater far, which 
is the greatest and worst of all evils, and one of which he 
never thinks. 

And what is that, Socrates? said Cebes. 

Why this: When the feeling of pleasure or pain in the 
soul is most intense, all of us naturally suppose that the 
object of this intense feeling is then plainest and truest: 
but this is not the case. 

Very true. 

And this is the state in which the soul is most enthralled 
by the body. 

How is that? 

Why, because each pleasure and pain is a sort of nail 
which nails and rivets the soul to the body, and engrosses 
her and makes her believe that to be true which the body 
affirms to be true; and from agreeing with the body and 
having the same delights she is obliged to have the same 
habits and ways, and is not likely ever to be pure at her 
departure to the world below, but is always saturated with 
the body ; so that she soon sinks into another body and there 
germinates and grows, and has therefore no part in the 
communion of the divine and pure and simple. 

That is most true, Socrates, answered Cebes. 

And this, Cebes, is the reason why the true lovers of 
knowledge are temperate and brave; and not for the reason 
which the world gives. 

Certainly not. 

Certainly not! For not in that way does the soul of a 
philosopher reason; she will not ask philosophy to release 
her in order that when released she may deliver herself up 

PHiEDO 77 

again to the thraldom of pleasures and pains, doing a work 
only to be undone again, weaving instead of unweaving her 
Penelope's web. But she will make herself a calm of passion 
and follow Reason, and dwell in her, beholding the true and 
divine (which is not matter of opinion), and thence derive 
nourishment. Thus she seeks to live while she lives, and 
after death she hopes to go to her own kindred and to be 
freed from human ills. Never fear, Simmias and Cebes, that 
a soul which has been thus nurtured and has had these pur- 
suits, will at her departure from the body be scattered and 
blown away by the winds and be nowhere and nothing. 

When Socrates had done speaking, for a considerable time 
there was silence; he himself and most of us appeared to be 
meditating on what had been said; only Cebes and Simmias 
spoke a few words to one another. And Socrates observing 
this asked them what they thought of the argument, and 
whether there was anything wanting? For, said he, much is 
still open to suspicion and attack, if any one were disposed 
to sift the matter thoroughly. If you are talking of some- 
thing else I would rather not interrupt you, but if you are 
still doubtful about the argument do not hesitate to say 
exactly what you think, and let us have anything better 
which you can suggest; and if I am likely to be of any use, 
allow me to help you. 

Simmias said: I must confess, Socrates, that doubts did 
arise in our minds, and each of us was urging and inciting 
the other to put the question which he wanted to have 
answered and which neither of us liked to ask, fearing that 
our importunity might be troublesome under present cir- 

Socrates smiled and said : O Simmias, how strange that is ; 
I am not very likely to persuade other men that I do not 
regard my present situation as a misfortune, if I am unable to 
persuade you, and you will keep fancying that I am at all more 
troubled now than at any other time. Will you not allow 
that I have as much of the spirit of prophecy in me as the 
swans? For they, when they perceive that they must die, 
having sung all their life long, do then sing more than ever, 
rejoicing in the thought that they are about to go away to 
the god whose ministers they are. But men, because they 


are themselves afraid of death, slanderously affirm of the 
swans that they sing a lament at the last, not. considering 
that no bird sings when cold, or hungry, or in pain, not 
even the nightingale, nor the swallow, nor yet the hoopoe; 
which are said indeed to tune a lay of sorrow, although I 
do not believe this to be true of them any more than of the 
swans. But because they are sacred to Apollo and have the 
gift of prophecy and anticipate the good things of another 
world, therefore they sing and rejoice in that day more than 
they ever did before. And I, too, believing myself to be the 
consecrated servant of the same God, and the fellow servant 
of the swans, and thinking that I have received from my 
master gifts of prophecy which are not inferior to theirs, 
would not go out of life less merrily than the swans. Cease 
to mind then about this, but speak and ask anything which 
you like, while the eleven magistrates of Athens allow. 

Well, Socrates, said Simmias, then I will tell you my diffi- 
culty, and Cebes will tell you his. For I dare say that you, 
Socrates, feel as I do, how very hard or almost impossible 
is the attainment of any certainty about questions such as 
these in the present life. And yet I should deem him a 
coward who did not prove of what is said about them to the 
uttermost, or whose heart failed him before he had examined 
them on every side. For he should persevere until he has 
attained one of two things: either he should discover or 
learn the truth about them ; or, if this is impossible, I would 
have him take the best and most irrefragable of human no- 
tions, and let this be the raft upon which he sails through life 
• — not without risk, as I admit, if he cannot find some word 
of God which will more surely and safely carry him. And 
nov/, as you bid me, I will venture to question you, as I 
should not like to reproach myself hereafter with not having 
said at the time what I think. For when I consider the 
m-atter either alone or with Cebes, the argument does cer- 
tainly appear to me, Socrates, to be not sufficient. 

Socrates answered: I dare say, my friend, that you may 
be right, but I should like to know in what respect the argu- 
ment is not sufficient. 

In this respect, replied Simmias: Might not a person use 
the same argument about harmony and the lyre — might he 

PHiEDO 79 

not say that harmony is a thing invisible, incorporeal, fair, 
divine, abiding in the lyre which is harmonized, but that 
the lyre and the strings are matter and material, composite^ 
earthy, and akin to mortality? And when some one breaks 
the lyre, or cuts and rends the strings, then he who takes 
this view would argue as you do, and on the same analogy, 
that the harmony survives and has not perished; for you 
cannot imagine, as we would say, that the lyre without the 
strings, and the broken strings themselves, remain, and yet 
that the harmony, which is of heavenly and immortal nature 
and kindred, has perished — and perished too before the 
mortal. The harmony, he would say, certainly exists some- 
v/here, and the wood and strings will decay before that de- 
cays. For I suspect, Socrates, that the notion of the soul 
which we are all of us inclined to entertain, would also be 
yours, and that you too would conceive the body to be strung 
up, and held together, by the elements of hot and cold, wet 
and dry, and the like, and that the soul is the harmony or 
due proportionate admixture pf them. And, if this is true, 
the inference clearly is that when the strings of the body 
are unduly loosened or overstrained through disorder or 
other injury, then the soul, though most divine, like other 
harmonies of music or of the works of art, of course perishes 
at once, although the material remains of the body may 
last for a considerable time, until they are either decayed 
or burnt. Now if any one maintained that the soul, being 
the harmony of the elements of the body, first perishes in 
that which is called death, how shall we answer him? 

Socrates looked round at us as his manner was, and said, 
with a smile : Simmias has reason on his side ; and why does 
not some one of you who is abler than myself answer him? 
for there is force in his attack upon me. But perhaps, before 
we answer him, we had better also hear what Cebes has to 
say against the argument — this will give us time for reflec- 
tion, and when both of them have spoken, we may either 
assent to them if their words appear to be in consonance 
with the truth, or if not, v/e may take up the other side, and 
argue with them. Please to tell me then, Cebes, he said, 
what was the difficulty which troubled you ? 

Cebes said: I will tell you. My feeling is that the argu- 


ment is still in the same position, and open to the same 
objections which were urged before; for I am ready to admit 
that the existence of the soul before entering into the bodily 
lorm has been very ingeniously, and, as I may be allowed 
to say, quite sufficiently proven; but the existence of the 
soul after death is still, in my judgment, unproven. Now 
my objection is not the same as that of Simmias; for I am 
not disposed to deny that the soul is stronger and more 
lasting than the body, being of opinion that in all such 
respects the soul very far excels the body. Well, then, says 
the argument to me, why do you remain unconvinced? 
When you see that the weaker is still in existence after 
the man is dead, will you not admit that the more lasting 
must also survive during the same period of time? Now I, 
like Simmias, must employ a figure; and I shall ask you to 
consider whether the figure is to the point. The parallel 
which I will suppose is that of an old weaver, who dies, 
and after his death somebody says : He is not dead, he must 
be alive; and he appeals to the coat which he himself wove 
and wore, and which is still whole and undecayed. And then 
he proceeds to ask of some one who is incredulous, whether 
a man lasts longer, or the coat which is in use and wear; 
and when he is answered that a man lasts far longer, thinks 
that he has thus certainly demonstrated the survival of 
the man, who is the more lasting, because the less lasting 
remains. But that, Simmias, as I would beg you to observe, 
is not the truth; every one sees that he who talks thus is 
talking nonsense. For the truth is that this weaver, having 
worn and woven many such coats, though he outlived several 
of them, was himself outlived by the last; but this is surely 
very far from proving that a man is slighter and weaker 
than a coat. Now the relation of the body to the soul may 
be expressed in a similar figure ; for you may say with reason 
that the soul is lasting, and the body weak and shortlived in 
comparison. And every soul may be said to wear out many 
bodies, especially in the course of a long life. For if while 
the man is alive the body deliquesces and decays, and yet 
the soul always weaves her garment anew and repairs the 
waste, then of course, when the soul perishes, she must have 
on her last garment, and this only ,will survive her; but then 

PH^DO 81 

again when the soul is dead the body will at last show its 
native weakness, and soon pass into decay. And therefore 
this is an argument on which I would rather not rely as 
proving that the soul exists after death. For suppose that 
we grant even more than you affirm as within the range 
of possibility, and besides acknowledging that the soul ex- 
isted before birth admit also that after death the souls of 
some are existing still, and will exist, and will be born and 
die again and again, and that there is a natural strength in 
the soul which will hold out and be born many times — 
for all this, we may be still inclined to think that she will 
iweary in the labors of successive births, and may at last 
succumb in one of her deaths and utterly perish; and this 
death and dissolution of the body which brings destruction 
to the soul may be imknown to any of us, for no one of 
us can have had any experience of it: and if this be true, 
then I say that he who is confident in death has but a foolish 
confidence, unless he is able to prove that the soul is alto- 
gether immortal and imperishable. But if he is not able to 
prove this, he who is about to die will always have reason 
to fear that when the body is disunited, the soul also may 
utterly perish. 

All of us, as we afterwards remarked to one another, had 
an unpleasant feeling at hearing them say this. When we 
had been so firmly convicted before, now to have our faith 
shaken seemed to introduce a confusion and uncertainty, 
not only into the previous argument, but into any future 
one; either we were not good judges, or there were no real 
grounds of belief. 

Ech. There I feel with you — indeed I do, Ph^do, and 
when you were speaking, I was beginning to ask myself the 
same question : What argument can I ever trust again ? For 
what could be more convincing than the argument of Soc- 
rates, which has now fallen into discredit? That the soul 
is a harmony is a doctrine which has always had a wonderful 
attraction for me, and, when mentioned, came back to me 
at once, as my own original conviction. And now I must 
begin again and find another argument which will assure 
me that when the man is dead the soul dies not with him. 
Tell me, I beg, how did Socrates proceed? Did he appear 


to share the unpleasant feeling which you mentiofi? or did 
he receive the interruption calmly and give a sufficient 
answer ? Tell us, as exactly as you can, what passed. 

Phced. Often, Echecrates, as I have admired Socrates, I 
never admired him more than at that moment. That he 
should be able to answer was nothing, but what astonished 
me was, first, the gentle and pleasant and approving manner 
in which he regarded the words of the young men, and then 
his quick sense of the wound which had been inflicted by 
the argument, and his ready application of the healing art. 
He might be compared to a general rallying his defeated 
and broken army, urging them to follow him and return to 
the field of argument. 

Ech. How was that? 

Phced. You shall hear, for I was close to him on his right 
hand, seated on a sort of stool, and he on a couch which 
was a good deal higher. Now he had a way of playing with 
my hair, and then he smoothed my head, and pressed the 
hair upon my neck, and said : To-morrow, Phsedo, I suppose 
that these fair locks of yours will be severed. 

Yes, Socrates, I suppose that they will, I replied. 

Not so if you will take my advice. 

What shall I do with them ? I said. 

To-day, he replied, and not to-morrow, if this argument 
dies and cannot be brought to life again by us, you and I 
will both shave our locks; and if I were you, and could 
not maintain my ground against Simmias and Cebes, I would 
myself take an oath, like the Argives, not to wear hair any 
more until I had renewed the conflict and defeated them. 

Yes, I said, but Heracles himself is said not to be a match 
for two. 

Summon me then, he said, and I will be your lolaus until 
the sun goes down. 

I summon you rather, I said, not as Heracles summoning 
lolaus, but as lolaus might summon Heracles. 

That will be all the same, he said. But first let us take 
care that we avoid a danger. 

And what is that ? I said. 

The danger of becoming misologists, he replied, which is 
one of the very worst things that can happen to us. For as 

PHvEDO 83 

there are misanthropists or haters of men, there are also 
misologists or haters of ideas, and both spring from the 
same cause, which is ignorance of the world. Misanthropy 
5irises from the- too great confidence of inexperience; you 
trust a man and think him altogether true and good and 
faithful, and then in a little while he turns out to be false 
and knaviph; and then another and another, and when this 
has happened several times to a man, especially within the 
circle of his most trusted friends, as he deems them, and he 
has often quarreled with them, he at last hates all men, and 
believes that no one has any good in him at all. I dare say 
that you must have observed this. 

Yes, I said. 

And is not this discreditable? The reason is that a man, 
having to deal with other men, has no knowledge of them; 
for if he had knowledge he would have known the true state 
of the case, that few are the good and few the evil, and that 
the great majority are in the interval between them.. 

How do you mean ? I said. 

I mean, he replied, as you might say of the very large and 
very small, that nothing is more uncommon than a very large 
or a very small man; and this applies generally to all ex- 
tremes, whether of great and small, or swift and slow, or fair 
and foul, or black and white : and whether the instances you 
select be men or dogs or anything else, few are the extremes, 
but many are in the mean between them. Did you never ob- 
serve this? 

Yes, I said, I have. 

And do you not imagine, he said, that if there were a 
competition of evil, the first in evil would be found to be 
very few? 

Yes, that is very likely, I said. 

Yes, that is very likely, he replied ; not that in this respect 
arguments are like men — there I was led on by you to say 
more than I had intended; but the point of comparison was 
that when a simple man who has no skill in dialectics be- 
lieves an argument to be true which he afterwards imagines 
to be false, whether really false or not, and then another and 
another, he has no longer any faith left, and great disputers, 
;as you know, come to think at last that they have grown to 


be the wisest of mankind; for they alone perceive the utter 
unsoundness and instability of all arguments, or, indeed, of 
all things, which, like the currents in the Euripus, are going 
up and down in never-ceasing ebb and flow. 

That is quite true, I said. 

Yes, Phsedo, he replied, and very melancholy too, if there 
be such a thing as truth or certainty or power of knowing at 
all, that a man should have lighted upon some argument or 
other which at first seemed true and then turned out to be 
false, and instead of blaming himself and his own want of 
wit, because he is annoyed, should at last be too glad to trans- 
fer the blame from himself to arguments in general ; and for- 
ever afterwards should hate and revile them, and lose the 
truth and knowledge of existence. 

Yes, indeed, I said ; that is very melancholy. 

Let us, then, in the first place, he said, be careful of admit- 
ting into our souls the notion that there is no truth or health 
or soundness in any arguments at all; but let us rather say 
that there is as yet no health in us, and that we must quit 
ourselves like men and do our best to gain health — ^you and 
all other men with a view to the whole of your future life, 
and I myself with a view to death. For at this moment I 
am sensible that I have not the temper of a philosopher ; like 
the vulgar, I am only a partisan. For the partisan, when he 
is engaged in a dispute, cares nothing about the rights of the 
question, but is anxious only to convince his hearers 6i 
his own assertions. And the difference between him and me 
at the present moment is only this — that whereas he seeks to 
convince his hearers that what he says is true, I am rather 
seeking to convince myself; to convince my hearers is a sec- 
ondary matter with me. And do but see how much I gain by 
this. For if what I say is true, then I do well to be persuaded 
of the truths but if there be nothing after death, still, during 
the short time that remains, I shall save my friends from 
lamentations, and my ignorance will not last, and therefore 
no harm will be done. This is the state of mind, Simmias and 
Cebes, in which I approach the argument. And I would ask 
you to be thinking of the truth and not of Socrates: agree 
with me, if I seem to you to be speaking the truth ; or if not, 
withstand me might and main, that I may not deceive you as 

PH^DO 85 

well as myself in my enthusiasm, and, like the bee, leave my 
sting in you before I die. 

And now let us proceed, he said. And first of all let me 
be sure that I have in my mind what you were saying. Sim- 
mias, if I remember rightly, has fears and misgivings whether 
the soul, being in the form of harmony, although a fairer 
and diviner thing than the body, may not perish first. On 
the other hand, Cebes appeared to grant that the soul was 
more lasting than the body, but he said that no one could 
know whether the soul, after having worn out many bodies, 
might not perish herself and leave her last body behind her; 
and that this is death, which is the destruction not of the 
body but of the soul, for in the body the work of destruction 
is ever going on. Are not these, Simmias and Cebes, the 
points which we have to consider? 

They both agreed to this statement of them. 

He proceeded: And did you deny the force of the whole 
preceding argument, or of a part only? 

Of a part only, they replied. 

And what did you think, he said, of that part of the argu- 
ment in which we said that knowledge was recollection only, 
and inferred from this that the soul must have previously 
existed somewhere else before she was enclosed in the body ? 
Cebes said that he had been wonderfully impressed by that 
part of the argumient, and that his conviction remained un- 
shaken. Simmias agreed, and added that he himself could 
hardly imagine the possibility of his ever thinking differently 
about that. 

But, rejoined Socrates, you will have to think differently, 
my Theban friend, if you still maintain that harmony is a 
compound, and that the soul is a harmony which is made out 
of strings set in the frame of the body; for you will surely 
never allow yourself to say that a harmony is prior to the 
elements which com.pose the harmony. 

No, Socrates, that is impossible. 

But do you not see that you are saying this when you say 
that the soul existed before she took the form and body of 
man, and was made up of elements which as yet had no 
existence ? For harmony is not a sort of thing like the soul, 
as you suppose; but first the lyre, and the strings, and the 


sounds exist in a state of discord, and then harmony is made 
last of all, and perishes first. And how can such a notion of 
the soul as this agree with the other? 

Not at all, replied Simmias. 

And yet, he said, there surely ought to be harmony when 
harmony is the theme of discourse. 

Tliere ought, replied Simmias. 

But there is no harmony, he said, in the two propositions 
that knowledge is recollection, and that the soul is a harmony. 
Which of them, then, will you retain ? 

I think, he replied, that I have a much stronger faith, Soc- 
rates, in the first of the tvv^o, which has been fully demon- 
strated to me, than in the latter, which has not been demon- 
strated at all, but rests only on probable and plausible 
grounds; and I know too well that these arguments from 
probabilities are impostors, and unless great caution is ob- 
served in the use of them they are apt to be deceptive — in 
geometry, and in other things too. But the doctrine of knowl- 
edge and recollection has been proven to me on trustworthy 
grounds; and the proof was that the soul must have existed 
before she came into the body, because to her belongs the 
essence of which the very name implies existence. Having, 
as I am convinced, rightly accepted this conclusion, and on 
sufficient grounds, I must, as I suppose, cease to argue or 
allow others to argue that the soul is a harmony. 

Let me put the matter, Simmias, he said, in another point 
of view: Do you imagine that a harmony or any other 
composition can be in a state other than that of the elements 
out of which it is compounded ? 

Certainly not. 

Or do or suffer anything other than they do or suffer ? 

He agreed. 

Then a harmony does not lead the parts or elements which 
make up the harmony, but only follows them. 

He assented. 

For harmony cannot possibly have any motion, or sound, 
or other quality which is opposed to the parts. 

That would be impossible, he replied. 

And does not every harmony depend upon the manner in 
which the elements are harmonized? 


I do not understand you, he said. 

I mean to say that a harmony admits of degrees, and is 
more of a harmony, and more completely a harmony, when 
more completely harmonized, if that be possible; and less 
of a harmiony, and less completely a harmony, when less 


But does the soul admit of degrees? or is one soul in the 
very least degree more or less, or more or less completely, 
a soul than another? 

Not in the least. 

Yet surely one squI is said to have intelligence and virtue, 
and to be good, and another soul is said to have folly and 
vice, and to be an evil soul : and this is said truly ? 

Yes, truly. 

But what will those who maintain the soul to be a harmony 
say of this presence of virtue and vice in the soul? — will 
they say that there is another harmony, and another discord, 
and that the virtuous soul is harmonized, and herself being 
harmony has another harmony within her, and that the 
vicious soul is inharmonical and has no harmony within her? 

I cannot say, replied Simmias; but I suppose that some- 
thing of that kind would be asserted by those who take this 

And the admission is already made that no soul is more a 
soul than another; and this is equivalent to admitting that 
harmony is not more or less harmony, or more or less com- 
pletely a harmony? 

Quite true. 

And that which is not more or less a harmony is not more 
or less harmonized? 


And that which is not more or less harmonized cannot have 
more or less of harmony, but only an equal harmony? 

Yes, an equal harmony. 

Then one soul not being more or less absolutely a soul than 
another, is not more or less harmonized? 


And therefore has neither more nor less of harmony or of 
discord ? 


She has not. 

And having neither more nor less of harmony or of dis- 
cord, one soul has no more vice or virtue than another, if 
vice be discord and virtue harmony? 

Not at all more. 

Or speaking more correctly, Simmias, the soul, if she is a 
harmony, will never have any vice ; because a harmony, being 
absolutely a harmony, has no part in the inharmonical ? 


And therefore a soul which is absolutely a soul has no vice ? 

How can she have, consistently with the preceding argu- 

Then, according to this, if the souls of all animals are 
equally and absolutely souls, they will be equally good? 

I agree with you, Socrates, he said. 

And can all this be true, think you? he said; and are all 
these consequences admissible — which nevertheless seem to 
follow from the assumption that the soul is a harmony? 

Certainly not, he said. 

Once m-ore, he said, what ruling principle is there of human 
things other than the soul, and especially the wise soul ? Do 
you know of any? 

Indeed, I do not. 

And is the soul in agreement with the affections of the 
body? or is she at variance with them? For example, when 
the body is hot and thirsty, does not the soul incline us 
against drinking? and when the body is hungry, against eat- 
ing? And this is only one instance out of ten thousand of 
the opposition of the soul to the things of the body. 

Very true. 

But we have already acknowledged that the soul, being a 
harmony, can never utter a note at variance with the tensions 
and relaxations and vibrations and other affections of the 
strings out of which she is composed; she can only follow, 
she cannot lead them ? 

Yes, he said, we acknowledged that, certainly. 

And yet we do not now discover the soul to be doing the 
exact opposite — leading the elements of which she is be- 
lieved to be composed; almost always opposing and coercing 
them in all sorts of ways throughout life, sometimes more 

PH^DO 89 

violently with the pains of medicine and gymnastic; then 
again more gently; threatening and also reprimanding the 
desires, passions, fears, as if talking to a thing which is not 
herself, as Homer in the " Odyssey " represents Odysseus 
doing in the words, 

"He beat his breast, and thus reproached his heart: 
Endure, my heart; far worse hast thou endured I" 

Do you think that Homer could have written this under the 
idea that the soul is a harmony capable of being led by the af- 
fections of the body, and not rather of a nature which leads 
and masters them; and herself a far diviner thing than any 
harmony ? 

Yes, Socrates, I quite agree to that. 

Then, my friend, we can never be right in saying that the 
soul is a harmony, for that would clearly contradict the 
divine Homer as well as ourselves. 

True, he said. 

Thus much, said Socrates, of Harmonia, your Theban god- 
dess, Cebes, who has not been ungracious to us, I think; but 
what shall I say to the Theban Cadmus, and how shall I pro- 
pitiate him? 

I think that you will discover a way of propitiating him, 
said Cebes ; I am sure that you have answered the argument 
about harmony in a manner that I could never have expected. 
For when Simmias m.entioned his objection, I quite imagined 
that no answer could be given to him, and therefore I was 
surprised at finding that his argument could not sustain the 
first onset of yours ; and not impossibly the other, whom you 
call Cadmus, may share a similar fate. 

Nay, my good friend, said Socrates, let us not boast, lest 
some evil eye should put to flight the word which I am about 
to speak. That, however, may be left in the hands of those 
above, while I draw near in Homeric fashion, and try the 
mettle of your words. Briefly, the sum of your objection is 
as follows: You want to have proven to you that the soul 
is imperishable and immortal, and you think that the philoso- 
pher who is confident in death has but a vain and foolish 
confidence, if he thinks that he will fare better than one v^rho 
has led another sort of life, in the world below,, unless he 


can prove this; and you say that the demonstration of the 
strength and divinity of the soul, and of her existence prior 
to our becoming men, does not necessarily imply her immor- 
tality. Granting that the soul is long-lived, and has known 
and done much in a former state, still she is not on that 
account immortal; and her entrance into the human form 
may be a sort of disease v/hich is the beginning of dissolu- 
tion, and may at last, after the toils of life are over, end 
in that which is called death. And whether the soul enters 
into the body once only or many times, that as you would 
say, makes no difference in the fears of individuals. For 
any man, who is not devoid of natural feeling, has reason 
to fear, if he has no knowledge or proof of the soul's immor- 
tality. That is what I suppose you to say, Cebes, which I 
designedly repeat, in order that nothing may escape us, 
and that you may, if you wish, add or subtract anything. 

But, said Cebes, as far as I can see at present, I have noth- 
ing to add or subtract; you have expressed my meaning. 

Socrates paused awhile, and seemed to be absorbed in re- 
flection. At length he said: This is a very serious inquiry 
which you are raising, Cebes, involving the whole question 
of generation and corruption, about which I will, if you like, 
give you my own experience; and you can apply this, if 
you think that anything which I say will avail towards the 
solution of your difficulty. 

I should very much like, said Cebes, to hear what you 
have to say. 

Then I will tell you, said Socrates. When I was young, 
Cebes, I had a prodigious desire to know that department 
of philosophy which is called Natural Science ; this appeared 
to me to have lofty aims, as being the science which has 
to do with the causes of things, and which teaches why a 
thing is, and is created and destroyed; and I was always 
agitating myself with the consideration of such questions 
as these : Is the growth of animals the result of some decay 
which the hot and cold principle contract, as some have 
said? Is the blood the element with which we think, or the 
air, or the fire ? or perhaps nothing of this sort — but the brain 
may be the originating power of the perceptions of hearing 
and sight and smell, and memorjr and opinion may come 

PH^DO 91 

from them, and science may be based on mem.ory and opinion 
when no longer in motion, but at rest. And then I went 
on to examine the decay of them, and then to the things 
of heaven and earth, and at last I concluded that I was 
wholly incapable of these inquiries, as I will satisfactorily 
prove to you. For I was fascinated by them to such a 
degree that my eyes grew blind to things that I had seemed 
to myself, and also to others, to know quite v/ell; and I 
forgot what I had before thought to be self-evident, that the 
growth of man is the result of eating and drinking ; for when 
by the digestion of food flesh is added to flesh and bone to 
bone, and whenever there is an aggregation of congenial 
elements, the lesser bulk becomes larger and the small man 
greater. Was not that a reasonable notion? 

Yes, said Cebes, I think so. 

Well; but let me tell you something more. There was a 
time when I thought that I understood the meaning of greater 
and less pretty well; and when I saw a great man standing 
by a little one I fancied that one was taller than the other 
by a head, one horse would appear to be greater than another 
horse: and still more clearly did I seem to perceive that 
ten is two more than eight, and that two cubits are more 
than one, because two is twice one. 

And what is now your notion of such matters? said 

I should be far enough from imagining, he replied, that I 
knew the cause of any of them, indeed I should, for I cannot 
satisfy myself that when one is added to one, the one to 
which the addition is made becomes two, or that the two 
units added together make two by reason of the addition. 
For I cannot understand how, when separated from the 
other, each of them was one and not two, and now, when 
they are brought together, the mere juxtaposition of them 
can be the cause of their becoming two: nor can I under- 
stand how the division of one is the way to make two; for 
then a different cause would produce the same effect — as 
in the former instance the addition and juxtaposition of 
one to one was the cause of two, in this the separation 
and subtraction of one from the other would be the 
cause. Nor am I any longer satisfied that I understand 


the reason why one or anything else either is generated or 
destroyed or is at all, but I have in my mind some confused 
notion of another method, and can never admit this. 

Then I heard some one who had a book of Anaxagoras, as 
he said, out of which he read that mind was the disposer and 
cause of all, and I was quite delighted at the notion of this, 
which appeared admirable, and I said to myself: If mind is 
the disposer, mind will dispose all for the best, and put each 
particular in the best place; and I argued that if any one 
desired to find out the cause of the generation or destruction 
or existence of anything, he must find out what state of 
being or suffering or doing was best for that thing, and 
therefore a man had only to consider the best for himself 
and others, and then he would also know the worse, for that 
the same science comprised both. And I rejoiced to think 
that I had found in Anaxagoras a teacher of the causes 
of existence such as I desired, and I imagined that he would 
tell me first whether the earth is flat or round; and then 
he would further explain the cause and the necessity of this, 
and would teach me the nature of the best and show that 
this was best; and if he said that the earth was in the 
centre, he would explain that this position was the best, 
and I should be satisfied if this were shown to me, and 
not want any other sort of cause. And I thought that I 
would then go and ask him about the sun and moon and 
stars, and that he would explain to m.e their comparative 
swiftness, and their returnings and various states, and how 
their several affections, active and passive, were all for the 
best. For I could not imagine that when he spoke of 
mind as the disposer of them, he would give any other 
account of their being as they are, except that this was best ; 
and I thought when he had explained to me in detail the 
cause of each and the cause of all, he would go on to 
explain to me what was best for each and what was best 
for all. I had hopes which I would not have sold for much, 
and I seized the books. and read them as fast as I could in 
my eagerness to know the better and the worse. 

What hopes I had formed, and how grievously was I dis- 
appointed ! As I proceeded, I found my philosopher alto- 
gether forsaking mind or any other principle of order, but 

PH^DO 93 

having recourse to air, and ether, and >vater, and other 
eccentricities. I might compare him to a person who began 
by maintaining generally that mind is the cause of the actions 
of Socrates, but who, when he endeavored to explain the 
causes of my several actions in detail, went on to show that 
I sit here because my body is made up of bones and muscles ; 
and the bones, as he would say, are hard and have liga- 
ments which divide them, and the muscles are elastic, and 
they cover the bones, which have also a covering or en- 
vironment of flesh and skin which contains them ; and as the 
bones are lifted at their joints by the contraction or relaxa- 
tion of the muscles, I am able to bend my limbs, and this is 
why I am sitting here in a curved posture: that is what he 
would say, and he would have a similar explanation of my 
talking to you, which he would attribute to sound, and air, 
and hearing, and he would assign ten thousand other causes 
of the same sort, forgetting to mention the true cause, which 
is that the Athenians have thought fit to condemn me, and 
accordingly I have thought it better and more right to 
remain here and undergo my sentence; for I am inclined to 
think that these muscles and bones of mine would have gone 
off to Megara or Boeotia — by the dog of Egypt they would, 
if they had been guided only by their own idea of what was 
best, and if I had not chosen as the better and nobler part, 
instead of playing truant and running away, to undergo any 
punishment which the State inflicts. There is surely a 
strange confusion of causes and conditions in all this. It 
may be said, indeed, that without bones and muscles and the 
other parts of the body I cannot execute my purposes. But 
to say that I do as I do because of them, and that is the 
way in which mind acts, and not from the choice of the best, 
is a very careless and idle mode of speaking. I wonder that 
they cannot distinguish the cause from the condition, which 
the many, feeling about in the dark, are always mistaking 
and misnaming. And thus one man makes a vortex all 
round and steadies the earth by the heaven; another gives 
the air as a support to the earth, which is a sort of broad 
trough. Any power which in disposing them as they are 
disposes them for the best never enters into their minds, nor 
do they imagine that there is any superhuman strength 


in that ; they rather expect to find another Atlas of the world 
who is stronger and more everlasting and more containing 
than the good is, and are clearly of opinion that the obliga- 
tory and containing power of the good is as nothing; and 
yet this is the principle which I would fain learn if any 
one would teach me. But as I have failed either to discover 
myself or to learn of anyone else, the nature of the best, 
I will exhibit to you, if you like, what I have found to be 
the second best mode of inquiring into the cause. 

I should very much like to hear that, he replied. 

Socrates proceeded: I thought that as I had failed in the 
contemplation of true existence, I ought to be careful that 
I did not lose the eye of my soul; as people may injure their 
bodily eye by observing and gazing on the sun during an 
eclipse, unless they take the precaution of only looking at 
the image reflected in the water, or in some similar medium. 
That occurred to me, and I was afraid that my soul might 
be blinded altogether if I looked at things with my eyes 
or tried by the help of the senses to apprehend them. And 
I thought that I had better have recourse to ideas, and seek 
in them the truth of existence. I dare say that the simile 
is not perfect — for I am very far from admitting that he 
who contemplates existence through the medium of ideas, 
sees them only " through a glass darkly," any more than 
he who sees them in their working and effects. However, 
this was the method which I adopted: I first assumed some 
principle which I judged to be the strongest, and then I 
afiirmed as true whatever seemed to agree with this, whether 
relating to the cause or to anything else; and that which 
disagreed I regarded as untrue. But I should like to explain 
my meaning clearly, as I do not think that you under- 
stand me. 

No, indeed, replied Cebes, not very well. 

There is nothing new, he said, in what I am about to tell 
you; but only what I have been always and everywhere re- 
peating in the previous discussion and on other occasions: 
I want to show you the nature of that cause which has occu- 
pied my thoughts, and I shall have to go back to those famil- 
iar words which are in the mouth of every one, and first of 
all assume that there is an absolute beauty and goodness, 

PHiEDO 95 

and greatness, and the like ; grant me this, and I hope to be 
able to show you the nature of the cause, and to prove the 
immortality of the soul. 

Cebes said : You may proceed at once with the proof, as I 
readily grant you this. 

Well, he said, then I should like to know whether you agree 
with me in the next step; for I cannot help thinking that 
if there be anything beautiful other than absolute beauty, 
that can only be beautiful in as far as it partakes of absolute 
beauty — and this I should say of everything. Do you agree 
in this notion of the cause? 

Yes, he said, I agree. 

He proceeded: I know nothing and can understand noth- 
ing of any other of those wise causes which are alleged ; and 
if a person says to me that the bloom of color, or form, or 
anything else of that sort is a source of beauty, I leave all 
that, which is only confusing to me, and simply and singly, 
and perhaps foolishly, hold and am assured in my own mind 
that nothing makes a thing beautiful but the presence and 
participation of beauty in whatever way or manner obtained ; 
for as to the manner I am uncertain, but I stoutly contend 
that by beauty all beautiful things become beautiful. That 
appears to me to be the only safe answer that I can give, 
either to myself or to any other, and to that I cling, in the 
persuasion that I shall nerer be overthrown, and that I may 
safely answer to myself or any other that by beauty beautiful 
things become beautiful. Do you not agree to that? 

Yes, I agree. 

And that by greatness only great things become great 
and greater greater, and by smallness the less becomes less. 


Then if a person remarks that A is taller by a head than B, 
and B less by a head than A, you would refuse to admit this, 
and would stoutly contend that what you mean is only that 
the greater is greater by, and by reason of, greatness, and 
the less is less only by, or by reason of, smallness ; and thus 
you would avoid the danger of saying that the greater^ is 
greater and the less less by the measure of the head, which 
is the same in both and would also avoid the monstrous ab- 
surdity of supposing that the greater man is greater by 


reason of the head, which is small. Would you not be afraid 
of that ? 

Indeed, I should, said Cebes, laughing. 

In like manner you would be afraid to say that ten exceeded 
eight by, and by reason of, two; but would say by, and by 
reason of, number; or that two cubits exceed one cubit by 
a half, but by magnitude — that is what you would say, for 
there is the same danger in both cases. 

Very true, he said. 

Again, would you not be cautious of affirming that the 
addition of one to one, or the division of one, is the cause 
of two? And you would loudly asseverate that you know 
of no way in which anything comes into existence except by 
participation in its own proper essence, and consequently, 
as far as you know, the only cause of two is the participation 
in duality; that is, the way to make two, and the participa- 
tion in one is the way to make one. Yoa would say: I will 
let alone puzzles of division and addition — wiser heads than 
mine may answer them; inexperienced as I am, and ready 
to start, as the proverb says, at my own shadow, I cannot 
afford to give up the sure ground of a principle. And if 
any one assails you there, you would not mind him, or 
answer him until you had seen whether the consequences 
which follow agree with one another or not, and when you 
are further required to give an explanation of this principle, 
you would go on to assume a higher principle, and the best 
of the higher ones until you found a resting-place; but you 
would not refuse the principle and the consequences in your 
reasoning like the Eristics — at least if you wanted to 
discover real existence. Not that this confusion signifies 
to them who never care or think about the matter at 
all, for they have the wit to be well pleased with them- 
selves, however great may be the turmoil of their ideas. 
But you, if you are a philosopher, will, I believe, do as 
I say. 

What you say is most true, said Simmias and Cebes, botK 
speaking at once. 

Ech. Yes, Phsedo; and I don't wonder at their assenting. 
Anyone who has the least sense will acknowledge the won- 
derful clearness of Socrates's reasoning. 

PHiEDO 97 

Phced. Certainly, Echecrates; and that was the feeling of 
the whole company at the time. 

Ech. Yes, and equally of ourselves, who were not of the 
company, and are now listening to your recital. But what 
followed ? 

Phced. After all this was admitted, and they had agreed 
about the existence of ideas and the participation in them 
of the other things which derive their names from them, Soc- 
rates, if I remember rightly, said : — 

This is your way of speaking; and yet when you say that 
Simmias is greater than Socrates and less than Phaedo, do 
you not predicate of Simmias both greatness and smallness? 

Yes, I do. 

But still you allow that Simmias does not really exceed 
Socrates, as the words may seem to imply, because he is 
Simmias, but by reason of the size which he has ; just as Sim- 
mias does not exceed Socrates because he is Simmias, any 
more than because Socrates is Socrates, but because he has 
smallness when compared with the greatness of Simmias? 


And if Phgedo exceeds him in size, that is not because 
Phaedo is Phsedo, but because Phaedo has greatness relatively 
to Simmias, who is comparatively smaller? 

That is true. 

And therefore Simmias is said to be great, and is also said 
to be small, because he is in a mean between them, exceeding 
the smallness of the one by his greatness, and allowing the 
greatness of the other to exceed his smallness. He added, 
laughing, I am speaking like a book, but I believe that what 
I am now saying is true. 

Simmias assented to this. 

The reason why I say this is that I want you to agree 
with me in thinking, not only that absolute greatness will 
never be great and also small, but that greatness in us or 
in the concrete will never admit the small or admit of being 
exceeded: instead of this, one of two things will happen — 
either the greater will fly or retire before the opposite, which 
is the less, or at the advance of the less will cease to exist; 
but will not, if allowing or admitting smallness, be changed 
by that; even as I, having received and admitted smallness 

4 HC— Vol. 2 


when compared with Simmias, remain just as I was, and am 
the same small person. And as the idea of greatness cannot 
condescend ever to be or become small, in like manner the 
smallness in us cannot be or become great; nor can any other 
opposite which remains the same ever be or become its own 
opposite, but either passes away or perishes in the change. 

That, replied Cebes, is quite my notion. 

One of the company, though I do not exactly remember 
which of them, on hearing this, said : By Heaven, is not this 
the direct contrary of what was admitted before— that out 
of the greater came the less and out of the less the greater, 
and that opposites are simply generated from opposites; 
whereas now this seems to be utterly denied. 

Socrates inclined his head to the speaker and listened. I 
like your courage, he said, in reminding us of this. But you 
do not observe that there is a difference in the two cases. 
For then we were speaking of opposites in the concrete, 
and now of the essential opposite which, as is afifirm_ed, 
neither in us nor in nature can ever be at variance with 
itself: then, my friend, we were speaking of things in which 
opposites are inherent and which are called after them, but 
now about the opposites which are inherent in them and 
which give their name to them; these essential opposites 
will never, as v/e maintain, admit of generation into or 
out of one another. At the same timxe, turning to Cebes, he 
said: Were you at all disconcerted, Cebes, at our friend's 

That was not my feeling, said Cebes; and yet I cannot 
deny that I am apt to be disconcerted. 

Then we are agreed after all, said Socrates, that the 
opposite will never in any case be opposed to itself? 

To that we are quite agreed, he replied. 

Yet once more let me ask you to consider the question 
from another point of view, and see whether you agree with 
me: There is a thing which you term heat, and another 
thing which you term cold? 


But are they the same as fire and snow? 

Most assuredly not. 

Heat is not the same as fire, nor is cold the same as snow? 

FH^DO 99 


And yet you will surely admit that when snow, as before 
said, is under the influence of heat, they will not remain 
snow and heat ; but at the advance of the heat the snow will 
either retire or perish? 

Very true, he replied. 

And the fire too at the advance of the cold will either 
retire or perish; and when the fire is under the influence o£ 
the cold, they will not remain, as before, fire and cold. 

That is true, he said. 

And in som.e cases the name of the idea is not confined to 
the idea; but anything else which, not being the idea, exists, 
only in the form of the idea, may also lay claim to it. I will 
try to make this clearer by an example : The odd number is 
always called by the name of odd? 

Very true. 

But is this the only thing which is called odd? Are there 
not other things which have their own name, and yet are 
called odd, because, although not the same as oddness, they 
are never without oddness? — that is what I mean to ask — 
whether numbers such as the number three are not of the 
class of odd. And there are many other examples : would 
you not say, for example, that three may be called by its 
proper name, and also be called odd, which is not the same 
with three? and this may be said not only of three but also 
of five, and every alternate number — each of them without 
being oddness is odd, and in the same way two and four, and 
the whole series of alternate numbers, has ever}^ number even, 
v/ithout being evenness. Do you admit that? 

Yes, he said, how can I deny that? 

Then now mark the point at which I am aiming: not only 
do essential opposites exclude one another, but also concrete 
things, which, although not in themselves opposed, contain 
opposites; these, I say, also reject the idea which is opposed 
to that which is contained in them, and at the advance of 
that they either perish or withdraw. There is the number 
three for example; will not that endure annihilation or any- 
thing sooner than be converted into an even number, remain- 
ing three? 

Very true, said Cebes. 


And yet, he said, the number two is certainly not opposed 
to the number three ? 

It is not. 

Then not only do opposite ideas repel the advance of one 
another, but also there are other things which repel the ap- 
proach of opposites. 

That is quite true, he said. 

Suppose, he said, that we endeavor, if possible, to deter- 
mine what these are. 

By all means. 

Are they not, Cebes, such as compel the things of which 
they have possession, not only to take their own form, but 
also the form of some opposite? 

What do you mean? 

I mean, as I was just now saying, and have no need to re- 
peat to you, that those things which are possessed by the 
number three m.ust not only be three in number, but must 
also be odd. 

Quite true. 

And on this oddness, of which the number three has the 
impress, the opposite idea will never intrude? 


And this impress was given by the odd principle? 


And to the odd is opposed the even ? 


Then the idea of the even number will never arrive at 
three ? 


Then three has no part in the even? 


Then the triad or number three is uneven? 

Very true. 

To return then to my distinction of natures which are not 
opposites, and yet do not admit opposites : as in this instance, 
three although not opposed to the even, does not any the 
more admit of the even, but always brings the opposite into 
play on the other side; or as two does not receive the odd, 
or fire the cold — from these examples (and there are many 
more of them) perhaps you may be able to arrive at the gen- 


eral conclusion that not only opposites will not receive op- 
posites, but also thai nothing which brings the opposite will 
admit the opposite of that which it brings in that to which 
it is brought. And here let me recapitulate — for there is no 
harm in repetition. The number five will not admit the 
nature of the even, any more than ten, which is the double of 
five, will admit the nature of the odd — the double, though not 
strictly opposed to the odd, rejects the odd altogether. Nor 
again will parts in the ratio of 3 : 2, nor any fraction in 
which there is a half, nor again in which there is a third, 
admit the notion of the whole, although they are not opposed 
to the whole. You will agree to that? 

Yes, he said, I entirely agree and go along with you in 

And now, he said, I think that I may begin again ; and to 
the question which I am about to ask I will beg you to give 
not the old safe answer, but another, of which I will offer you 
an example; and I hope that you will find in what has been 
just said another foundation which is as safe. I mean that 
if anyone asks you, " What that is, the inherence of which 
makes the body hot?" you will reply not heat (this is what 
I call the safe and stupid ansv/er), but fire, a far better an- 
swer, which we are now in a condition to give. Or if any- 
one asks you, " Why a body is diseased," you will not say 
from disease, but from fever ; and instead of saying that odd- 
ness is the cause of odd numbers, you will say that the monad 
is the cause of them : and so of things in general, as I dare say 
that you will understand sufficiently without my adducing 
any further examples. 

Yes, he said, I quite understand you. 

Tell me, then, what is that the inherence of which will 
render the body alive? 

The soul, he replied. 

And is this always the case? 

Yes, he said, of course. 

Then whatever the soul possesses, to that she comes bear^ 
ing life? 

Yes, certainly. 

And is there any opposite to life? 

There is, he said. 


And what is that? 


Then the soul, as has been acknowledged, will never re- 
ceive the opposite of what she brings. A.nd now, he said^ 
what did we call that principle which repels the even ? 

The odd. 

And that principle which repels the musical; or the just?. 

The unmusical, he said, and the unjust. 

And what do we call the principle which does not admit 
of death? 

The immortal, he said. 

And does the soul admit of death? 


Then the soul is immortal? 

Yes, he said. 

And may we say that this is proven? 

Yes, abundantly proven, Socrates, he replied. 

And supposing that the odd were imperishable, must not 
three be imperishable? 

Of course. 

And if that which is cold were imperishable, when the 
warm principle came attacking the snow, must not the snow 
have retired whole and unmelted — for it could never have 
perished, nor could it have remained and admitted the heat? 

True, he said. 

Again, if the uncooling or warm principle were imperish- 
able, the fire when assailed by cold would not have perished 
or have been extinguished, but would have gone away un- 
affected ? 

Certainly, he said. 

And the same may be said of the immortal : if the Immortal 
is also imperishable, the soul when attacked by death cannot 
perish; for the preceding argument shows that the soul will 
not admit of death, or ever be dead, any more than tkree or 
the odd number will admit of the even, or fire or the heat 
in the fire, of the cold. Yet a person may say : " But although 
the odd will not become even at the approach of the even, 
why may not the odd perish and the even take the place of 
the odd?'' Now to him who makes this objection, we can- 
not answer that the odd principle is imperishable; for this 

PHiEDO 103 

lias not been acknowledged, but if this had been aclcnowl- 
edgedj there would have been no difficulty in contending 
that at the approach of the even the odd principle and the 
number three took up their departure; and the same argu- 
ment would have held good of fire and heat and any other 

Very true 

And the same may be said of the immortal : if the immortal 
is also imperishable, then the soul v/ill be imperishable as 
well as immortal; but if not, some other proof of her im- 
perishableness will have to be given. 

No other proof is needed, he said ; for if the immortal, be- 
ing eternal, is liable to perish, then nothing is imperishable. 

Yes, replied Socrates, all men will agree that God, and the 
essential form of life, and the immortal in general will never 

Yes, all men, he said— that is true ; and what is more, gods, 
if I am not mistaken, as well as men. 

Seeing then that the immortal is indestructible, must not 
the soul, if she is immortal, be also imperishable? 

Most certainly. 

Then when death attacks a man, the mortal portion of him 
may be supposed to die, but the im^mortal goes out of the 
way of death and is preserved safe and sound? 

True. -'^ 

Then, Cebes, beyond question the soul is immortal an3 
imperishable, and our souls will truly exist in another world ! 

I am convinced, Socrates, said Cebes, and have nothing 
more to object; but if my friend Simmias, or anyone else, 
has any further objection, he had better speak out, and not 
keep silence, since I do not know how there can ever be a 
more fitting time to which he can defer the discussion, if 
there is anything which he wants to say or have said. 

But I have nothing more to say, replied Simmias ; nor do I 
see any room for uncertainty, except that which arises neces- 
sarily out of the greatness of the subject and the feebleness 
of man, and which I cannot help feeling. 

Yes, Simmias, replied Socrates, that is well said : and more 
^han that, first principles, even if they appear certain, should 
be carefully considered; and when they are satisfactorily 


ascertained, then, with a sort of hesitating conSdence m 
human reason, you may, I think, follow the course of the 
argument ; and if this is clear, there will be no need iov any 
further inquiry. 

That, he said, is true. 

But then, O my friends, he said, if the soul Is really im- 
mortal, what care should be taken of her, not only in respect 
of the portion of time which is called life, but of eternity! 
And the danger of neglecting her from this point of view 
does indeed appear to be awful. If death had only been the 
end of all, the wicked would have had a good bargain in 
dying, for they would have been happily quit not only of their 
body, but of their own evil together with their souls. But 
now, as the soul plainly appears to be immortal, there is no 
release or salvation from evil except the attainment of the 
highest virtue and wisdom. For the soul when on her progress 
to the world below takes nothing with her but nurture and 
education ; which are indeed said greatly to benefit or greatly 
to injure the departed, at the very beginning of its pilgrimage 
in the other world. 

For after death, as they say, the genius of each individual, 
to whom he belonged in life, leads him to a certain place 
in which the dead are gathered together for judgment, whence 
they go into the world below, following the guide who is 
appointed to conduct them from this world to the other: and 
when they have there received their due and remained their 
time, another guide brings them back again after many revo- 
lutions of ages. Now this journey to the other world is not, 
as ^schylus says in the " Telephus," a single and straight 
path — no guide would be wanted for that, and no one could 
miss a single path; but there are many partings of the road, 
and windings, as I must infer from the rites and sacrifices 
which are offered to the gods below in places where three 
ways meet on earth. The wise and orderly soul is conscious 
of her situation and follows in the path; but the soul which 
desires the body, and which, as I was relating before, has 
long been fluttering about the lifeless frame and the world 
of sight, is after many struggles and many sufferings hardly 
and with violence carried away by her attendant genius, and 
when she arrives at the place where the other souls are 

PH^DO 105 

gathered, iff she be impure and have done impure deeds, or 
been concerned in foul murders or other crimes which are the 
brothers of these, and the works of brothers in crime — from 
that soul every one flees and turns away; no one will be her 
com.panion, no one her guide, but alone she wanders in ex- 
tremity of evil until certain times are fulfilled, and when they 
are fulfilled, she is borne irresistibly to her own fitting habi- 
tation; as every pure and just soul which has passed through 
life in the company and under the guidance of the gods has 
also her own proper home. 

Now the earth has divers wonderful regions, and is indeed 
in nature and extent very unlike the notions of geographers, 
as I believe on the authority of one who shall be nameless. 

What do you mean, Socrates? said Simmias. I have my- 
self heard many descriptions of the earth, but I do not 
know in what you are putting your faith, and I should 
like to know. 

Well, Simmias, replied Socrates, the recital of a tale does 
not, I think, require the art of Giaucus ; and I know not that 
the art of Giaucus could prove the truth of my tale, which I 
myself should never be able to prove, and even if I could, I 
fear, Simmias, that my life would come to an end before the 
argum^ent was com.pieted. I may describe to you, however, 
the form and regions of the earth according to my conception 
of them. 

That, said Simmias, will be enough. 

Well, then, he said, my conviction is that the earth is a 
round body in the center of the heavens, and therefore has no 
need of air or any similar force as a support, but is kept there 
and hindered from falling or inclining any way by the equa- 
bility of the surrounding heaven and by her own equipoise. 
For that which, being in equipoise, is in the center of that 
which is equably diffused, will not incline any way in any 
degree, but will always remain in the same state and not 
deviate. And this is my first notion. 

Which is surely a correct one, said Simmias. 

Also I believe that the earth is very vast, and that we who 
dwell in the region extending from the river Phasis to the 
Pillars of Heracles, along the borders of the sea, are just like 
ants or frogs about a marsh, and inhabit a small portion only, 


and that many others dwell in many like places. For I should 
say that in all parts of the earth there are hollows of various 
forms and sizes, into which the water and the mist and the 
air collect; and that the true earth is pure and in the pure 
heaven, in which also are the stars — that is the heaven which 
is commonly spoken of as the ether, of which this is but the 
sediment collecting in the hollows of the earth. But we who 
live in these hollows are deceived into the notion that we 
are dwelling above on the surface of the earth; which is just 
as if a creature who was at the bottom of the sea w^ere to fancy 
that he was on the surface of the water, and that the sea was 
the heaven through which he saw the sun and the other stars 
— he having never come to the surface by reason of his 
feebleness and sluggishness, and havmg never lifted up his 
head and seen, nor ever heard from one who had seen, this 
region which is so much purer and fairer than his own. Now 
this is exactly our case : for we are dwelling in a hollow of 
the earth, and fancy that we are on the surface ; and the air 
we call the heaven, and in this we imagine that the stars 
move. But this is also owing to our feebleness and sluggish- 
ness, which prevent our reaching the surface of the air : for 
if any man could arrive at the exterior limit, or take the 
wings of a bird and fly upward, like a fish who puts his head 
out and sees this world, he would see a world beyond; and, 
if the nature of mian could sustain the sight, he would ac- 
knowledge that this was the place of the true heaven and 
the true light and the true stars. For this earth, and the 
stones, and the entire region which surrounds us are spoilt 
and corroded, like the things in the sea which are corroded by 
the brine; for in the sea too there is hardly any noble or 
perfect growth, but clefts onl)'-, and sand, and an endless 
slough of mud: and even the shore is not to be compared 
to the fairer sights of this world. And greater far is the 
superiority of the other. Now of that upper earth which is 
mnder the heaven, I can tell you a charming tale, Simmias, 
which is well worth hearing. 

And we, Socrates, replied Simmias, shall be charmed to 

The tale, my friend, he said, is as follows. In the first 
place, the earth, when looked at from above, is like one of 

PH^DO 107 

those balls which have leather coverings in twelve pieces, 
and is of divers colors, of which the colors which painters 
use on earth are only a sample. But there the whole earth 
is made up of them, and they are brighter far and clearer 
than ours; there is a purple of wonderful luster, also the 
radiance of gold, and the white which is in the earth is 
whiter than any chalk or snow. Of these and other colors 
the earth is made up, and they are more in number and 
fairer than the eye of man has ever seen; and the very 
hollows (of which I was speaking) filled with air and water 
are seen like light flashing amid the other colors, and have 
a color of their own, which gives a sort of unity to the 
variety of earth. And in this fair region everything that 
grows — trees, and flowers, and fruits — is in a like degree fairer 
than any here; and there are hills, and stones in them in a 
like degree smoother, and more transparent, and fairer in 
color than our highly valued emeralds and sardonyxes and jas- 
pers, and other gems, which are but minute fragments of them : 
for there all the stones are like our precious stones, and 
fairer still. The reason of this is that they are pure, and not, 
like our precious stones, infected or corroded by the corrupt 
briny elements which coagulate among us, and which breed 
foulness and disease both in earth and stones, as well as in 
animals and plants. They are the jewels of the upper earth, 
which also shines with gold and silver and the like, and they 
are visible to sight and large and abundant and found in 
every region of the earth, and blessed is he who sees them. 
And uoon the earth are animals and men, some in a middle 
region, others dwelling about the air as we dwell about 
the sea ; others in islands which the air flov/s round, near the 
continent: and in a word, the air is used by them as the 
water and the sea are by us, and the ether is to them what 
the air to us. Moreover, the temperament of their seasons 
is such that they have no disease, and live much longer than 
we do, and have sight and hearing and smell, and all the 
other senses, in far greater perfection, in the same degree 
that air is purer than water or the ether than air. Also 
they have temples and sacred places in which the gods really 
dwell, and they hear their voices and receive their answers, 
and are conscious of them and hold converse with them, and 


they see the sun, moon, and stars as they really are, and 
their other blessedness is of a piece with this. 

Such is the nature of the whole earth, and of the things 
which are around the earth; and there are divers regions 
in the hollows on the face of the globe everywhere, some of 
them deeper and also wider than that which we inhabit, others 
deeper and with a narrower opening than ours, and some 
are shallower and wider; all have numerous perforations, 
and passages broad and narrow in the interior of the earth, 
connecting them with one another; and there flows into and 
out of them, as into basins, a vast tide of v/ater, and huge 
subterranean streams of perennial rivers, and springs hot 
and cold, and a great fire, and great rivers of fire, and 
streams of liquid mud, thin or thick (like the rivers of mud 
in Sicily, and the lava-streams which follow them), and the 
regions about which they happen to flow are filled up with 
them. And there is a sort of swing in the interior of the 
earth which moves all this up and down. Now the swing is 
in this wise : There is a chasm which is the vastest of them 
all, and pierces right through the whole earth; this is that 
which Homer describes in the words — 

"Far off, where is the inmost depth beneath the earth"; 

and which he in other places, and many other poets, have 
called Tartarus. And the swing is caused by the streams 
flowing into and out of this chasm, and they each have the 
nature of the soil through which they flow. And the reason 
why the streams are always flowing in and out is that 
the watery element has no bed or bottom, and is surging 
and swinging up and down, and the surrounding wind and 
air do the same; they follow the v/ater up and dow^n, hither 
and thither, over the earth — just as in respiring the air is 
always in process of inhalation and exhalation; and the 
wind swinging with the water in and out produces fearful 
and irresistible blasts: when the waters retire with a rush 
into the lower parts of the earth, as they are called, they flow 
through the earth into those regions, and fill them up as with 
the alternate motion of a pump, and then when they leave 
those regions and rush back hither, they again fill the hol- 
lows here, and when these are filled, flow through subter- 

PH^DO 109 

ranean channels and find their way to their several places, 
forming seas, and lakes and rivers, and springs. Thence 
they again enter the earth, some of them making a long cir- 
cuit into many lands, others going to few places and those 
not distant, and again fall into Tartarus, some at a point a 
good deal lower than that at which they rose, and others 
not much lower, but all in some degree lower than the point 
of issue. And some burst forth again on the opposite side, 
and some on the same side, and some wind round the earth 
with one or many folds, like the coils of a serpent, and 
descend as far as they can, but always return and fall into 
the lake. The rivers on either side can descend only to the 
center and no further, for to the rivers on both sides the 
opposite side is a precipice. 

Now these rivers are many, and mighty, and diverse, and 
there are four principal ones, of which the greatest and 
outermost is that called Oceanus, which flows round the 
earth in a circle ; and in the opposite direction flows Acheron, 
which passes under the earth through desert places, into 
the Acherusian Lake : this is the lake to the shores of which 
the souls of the many go when they are dead, and after 
waiting an appointed time, which is to som.e a longer and to 
some a shorter time, they are sent back again to be born 
as animals. The third river rises between the two, and 
near the place of rising pours into a vast region of fire, and 
forms a lake larger than the Mediterranean Sea, boiling with 
water and mud; and proceeding muddy and turbid, and 
winding about the earth, comes, among other places, to the 
extremities of the Acherusian Lake, but mingles not with 
the waters of the lake, and after making many coils about 
the earth plunges into Tartarus at a deeper level. This is 
that Pyriphlegethon, as the stream is called, which throws 
up jets of fire in all sorts of places. The fourth river goes 
out on the opposite side, and falls first of all into a wild and 
savage region, which is all of a dark-blue color, like lapis 
lazuli; and this is that river which is called the Stygian 
River, and falls into and forms the Lake Styx, and after 
falling into the lake and receiving strange powers in the 
waters, passes under the earth, v/inding round in the op- 
posite direction to Pyriphlegethon, and meeting in the Ache- 


rusian Lake from the opposite side. And the water of this 
river too mingles with no other, but flows round in a circle 
and falls into Tartarus over against Pyriphlegethon, and the 
name of this river, as the poet says, is Cocytus. 

Such is the name of the other world; and when the dead 
arrive at the place to which the genius of each severally 
conveys them, first of all they have sentence passed upon 
them, as they have lived well and piously or not. And those 
who appear to have lived neither well nor ill, go to the 
river Acheron, and mount such conveyances as they can get, 
and are carried in them to the lake, and there they dwell and 
are purified of their evil deeds, and suffer the penalty of 
the wrongs which they have done to others, and are absolved, 
and receive the rewards of their good deeds according to 
their deserts. But those who appear to be incurable by 
reason of the greatness of their crimes — who have com- 
mitted many and terrible deeds of sacrilege, murders foul 
and violent, or the like — such are hurled into Tartarus, which 
is their suitable destiny, and they never come out. Those 
again v/ho have committed, which, although great, are 
not unpardonable — who in a moment of anger, for example, 
have done violence to a father or mother, and have repented 
for the remainder of their lives, or who have taken the life 
of another under like extenuating circumstances — these are 
plunged into Tartarus, the pains of which they are com- 
pelled to undergo for a year, but at the end of the year the 
wave casts them forth — mere homicides by way of Cocytus, 
parricides and matricides by Pyriphlegethon — and they are 
borne to the Acherusian Lake, and there they lift up 
their voices and call upon the victims whom they have 
slain or wronged, to have pity on them, and to receive them, 
and to let them come out of the river into the lake. And if 
they prevail, then they come forth and cease from their 
troubles; but if not, they are carried back again into Tar- 
tarus and from thence into the rivers unceasingly, until they 
obtain mercy from those whom they have wronged : for that is 
the sentence inflicted upon them by their judges. Those also 
who are remarkable for having led holy lives are released 
from this earthly prison, and go to their pure home which is 
above, and dwell in the purer earth ; and those who have duly 

PH^DO 111 

purifi'ed tfiemselves with philosophy live henceforth altogether 
without the body, in mansions fairer far than these, which may 
not be described, and of which the time would fail me to tell. 

Wherefore, Simmias, seeing all these things, what ought 
not we to do in order to obtain virtue and ;wisdom in this 
life? Fair is the prize, and the hope great. 

I do not mean to affirm that the description which I have 
given of the soul and her mansions is exactly true — a man of 
sense ought hardly to say that. But I do say that, inasmuch 
as the soul is shown to be immortal, he may venture to think 
not improperly or unworthily, that something of the kind is 
true. The venture is a glorious one, and he ought to com- 
fort himself with words like these, which is the reason why 
I lengthen out the tale. Wherefore, I say, let a man be of 
good cheer about his soul, who hast cast away the pleasures 
and ornaments of the body as alien to him, and rather hurt- 
ful in their effects, and has followed after the pleasures of 
knowledge in this life; who has adorned the soul in her own 
proper jewels, which are temperance, and justice, and cour- 
age, and nobility, and truth — in these arrayed she is ready 
to go on her journey to the world below, when her time 
comes. You, Simmias and Cebes, and all other men, will 
depart at some time or other. Me already, as the tragic 
poet would say, the voice of fate calls. Soon I must drink 
the poison; and I think that I had better repair to the bath 
first, in order that the women may not have the trouble of 
washing my body after I am dead. 

When he had done speaking, Crito said : And have you any 
commands for us, Socrates — anything to say ^bout your 
children, or any other matter in v/hich we can serve you? 

Nothing particular, he said: only, as I have always told 
you, I would have you to look to yourselves ; that is a service 
which you may always be doing to me and mine as well as 
to yourselves. And you need not make professions; for if 
you take no thought for yourselves, and walk not according 
to the precepts v/hich I have given you, not now for the first 
time, the warmth of your professions will be of no avail. 

We will do our best, said Crito. But in what way would 
you have us bury you? 

In any ,way that you like ; only you must get hold of me. 


and take care that I do not walk away from you. Then he 
turned to us, and added with a smile: I cannot make Crito 
believe that I am the same Socrates who have been talking 
and conducting the argument ; he fancies that I am the other 
Socrates whom he will soon see, a dead body—and he asks, 
How shall he bury me? And though I have spoken many 
words in the endeavor to show that when I have drunk the 
poison I shall leave you and go to the joys of the blessed — 
these word^ of mine, with which I comforted you and myself, 
have had, I perceive, no effect upon Crito. And therefore 
I want you to be surety for me now, as he was surety for 
me at the trial: but let the promise be of another sort; for 
he was my surety to the judges that I would remain, but 
you must be my surety to him that I shall not remain, but 
go away and depart; and then he will suffer less at my 
death, and not be grieved when he sees my body being 
burned or buried. I would not have him sorrow at my hard 
lot, or say at the burial. Thus we lay out Socrates, or, Thus 
,we follow him to the grave or bury him ; for false words are 
not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with 
evil. Be of good cheer, then, my dear Crito, and say that 
you are burying my body only, and do with that as is usual, 
and as you think best. 

When he had spoken these words, he arose and went into 
the bath chamber with Crito, who bade us wait; and we 
waited, talking and thinking of the subject of discourse, and 
also of the greatness of our sorrow; he was like a father of 
whom we were being bereaved, and we were about to pass the 
rest of our lives as orphans. When he had taken the bath his 
children were brought to him — (he had two young sons and 
an elder one) ; and the women of his family also came, and 
he talked to them and gave them a few directions in the pres- 
ence of Crito ; and he then dismissed them and returned to us. 

Now the hour of sunset was near, for a good deal of time 
had passed while he was within. When he came out, he sat 
down with us again after his bath, but not much was said. 
Soon the jailer, who was the servant of the Eleven, entered 
and stood by him, saying: To you, Socrates, whom I know 
to be the noblest and gentlest and best of all who ever came 
to this place, I will not impute the angry feelings of other 
men, who rage and swear at me when, in obedience to the 

PHiEDO 113 

authorities, I bid them drink the poison— indeed I am sure 
that you will not be angry with me ; for others, as you are 
aware, and not I, are the guilty cause. And so fare you well, 
and try to bear lightly what must needs be ; you know my er- 
rand. Then bursting into tears he turned away and went out. 

Socrates looked at him and said: I return your good 
wishes, and will do as you bid. Then, turning to us, he said. 
How charming the man is: since I have been in prison he 
has always been coming to see me, and at times he would 
talk to me, and was as good as could be to me, and now see 
how generously he sorrows for me. But we must do as he 
says, Crito ; let the cup be brought, if the poison is prepared : 
if not, let the attendant prepare some. 

Yet, said Crito, the sun is still upon the hilltops, and many 
Sf one has taken the draught late, and after the announcement 
has been made to him, he has eaten and drunk, and indulged 
in sensual delights ; do not hasten, then, there is still time. 

Socrates said: Yes, Crito, and they of whom you speak 
are right in doing thus, for they think that they will gain 
by the delay; but I am right in not doing thus, for I do not 
think that I should gain anything by drinking the poison a 
little later; I should be sparing and saving a life which is 
already gone : I could only laugh at myself for this. Please 
then to do as I say, and not refuse me. 

Crito, when he heard this, made a sign to the servant, and 
the servant went in, and remained for some time, and then 
returned with the jailer carrying a cup of poison. Socrates 
said: You, my good friend, who are experienced in these 
matters, shall give me directions how I am to proceed. The 
man answered : You have only to walk about until your legs 
are heavy, and then to lie down, and the poison will act 
At the same time he handed the cup to Socrates, who in the 
easiest and gentlest manner, without the least fear or change 
of color or feature, looking at the man with all his eyes, 
Echecrates, as his manner was, took the cup and said: 
What do you say about making a libation out of this cup to 
any god? May I, or not? The man answered: We only 
prepare, Socrates, just so much as we deem enough. I un- 
derstand, he said: yet I may and must pray to the gods to 
prosper my journey from this to that other world — may 
this, then, which is my prayer, be granted to me, Thea 


holding the cup to his lips, quite readily and cheerfully he 
drank off the poison. And hitherto most of us had been able 
to control our sorrow ; but now when we saw hfm drinking, 
and saw too that he had finished the draught, we could no 
longer forbear, and in spite of myself my own tears were 
flowing fast; so that I covered my face and wept over 
myself, for certainly I was not weeping over him, but at the 
thought of my own calamity in having lost such a com- 
panion. Nor was I the first, for Crito, when he found him- 
self unable to restrain his tears, had got up and moved away, 
and I followed; and at that moment, Apollodorus, who had 
been weeping all the time, broke out in a loud cry which 
made cowards of us all. Socrates alone retained his calm- 
ness : What is this strange outcry ? he said. I sent away the 
women mainly in order that they might not offend in this 
way, for I have heard that a man should die in peace. Be 
quiet, then, and have patience. 

When we heard that, we were ashamed, and refrained our 
tears; and he walked about until, as he said, his legs began 
to fail, and then he lay on his back, according to the direc- 
tions, and the man who gave him the poison now and then 
looked at his feet and legs ; and after a while he pressed his 
foot hard and asked him. if he could feel; and he said, no^ 
and then his leg, and so upwards and upwards, and 
showed us that he was cold and stiff. And he felt 
them himself, and said: When the poison reaches the 
heart, that will be the end. He was beginning to grow 
cold about the groin, when he uncovered his face, for 
he had covered himself up, and said (they were his 
last words) — he said: Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; 
will you remember to pay the debt ? The debt shall be paid, 
said Crito; is there anything else? There was no answer 
to this question; but in a minute or two a movement was 
heard, and the attendants uncovered him; his eyes were set, 
and Crito closed his eyes and mouth. 

Such was the end, Echecrates, of our friend, whom I may 
truly call the wisest, and justest, and best of all the men 
whom I have ever known. 





Epictetus was a Greek, horn at Hierapolis in Phrygia, probably 
about the middle of the first century, A. D. His early history is 
unknown till we find him in Rome, the slave of Epaphroditus, a 
freedman of Nero's. The lameness, which is the only physical 
characteristic of his recorded, was, according to one tradition^ 
due to tortures inflicted by his master. He seems to have become 
acquainted with the principles of the Stoic philosophy through the 
lectures of C. Musonim Rufus; and after his emancipation he 
•became a teacher of that system in Rome. When the Emperor 
'Domitian banished all philosophers from Italy about go A. D.j 
Epictetus went to Nicopolis in Epirus, where he continued his 
teaching. He left nothing in writing, and for a knowledge of his 
utterances we are indebted to his disciple, the Greek philosopher 
and historian Arrian, who compiled from his master's lectures and 
conversations the "Discourses and Encheiridion," from which 
the "Golden Sayings" are drawn. The date and circumstances 
of his death are unknown. 

Epictetus is a main authority on Stoic morals. The points on 
which he laid chief stress were the importance of cultivating com- 
plete independence of external circumstances, the realisation that 
man must find happiness within himself, and the duty of rev* 
erencing the voice of Reason in the soul. Few teachers of morals 
in any age are so bracing and invigorating ; and the tonic quality 
of his utterances has been recognized ever since his own day by 
Pagan and Christian alike. 




RE these the only works of providence in us? What 
words suffice to praise or set them forth ? Had we but 
understanding, should we ever cease hymning and 
blessing the Divine Power, both openly and in secret, and 
telling of His gracious gifts ? Whether digging or ploughing 
or eating, should we not sing the hymn to God: — 

Great is God, for that He has given us such instruments to till the 
ground withal : 

Great is God, for that He hath given us hands, and the power of 
swallowing and digesting; of unconsciously growing and breath- 
ing while we sleep ! 

Thus should we ever have sung : yea and this, the grandest 
and divinest hymn of all : — 

Great is God, for that He hath given us a mind to apprehend these 
things, and duly to use them i 

What then ! seeing that most of you are blinded, should 
there not be some one to fill this place, and sing the hymn 
to God on behalf of all men? What else can I that am old 
and lame do but sing to God? Were I a nightingale, I 
should do after the manner of a nightingale. Were I a swan, 
I should do after the manner of a swan. But now, since I 
am a reasonable being, I must sing to God : that is ray work : 
I do it, nor will I desert this my post, as long as it is granted 
me to hold it; and upon you too I call to join in this self- 
same hymn. 




How then do men act? As though one returning to his 
country who had sojourned for the night in a fair inn, should 
be so captivated thereby as to take up his abode there. 

" Friend, thou hast forgotten thine intention ! This was 
not thy destination, but only lay on the way thither." 

" Nay, but it is a proper place." 

" And how many more of the sort there be ; only to pass 
through upon thy way 1 Thy purpose was to return to thy 
country; to relieve thy kinsmen's fears for thee; thyself to 
discharge the duties of a citizen ; to marry a wife, to beget 
offspring, and to fill the appointed round of office. Thou 
didst not come to choose out what places are most pleasant; 
but rather to return to that wherein thou wast born and 
where thou wert appointed to be a citizen." 


Try to enjoy the great festival of life with other men. 


But I have one whom I must please, to whom I must be 
subject, whom I must obey: — God, and those who come next 
to Him.^ He hath entrusted m^e with myself : He hath made 
my will subject to myself alone and given me rules for the 
right use thereof. 


Rufus^ used to say, // you have leisure to praise me, what 
tway is naught. In truth he spoke in such wise, that each of 
us v/ho sat there, thought that some one had accused him to 
Bufus : — so surely did he lay his fimger on the very deeds we 
did : so surely display the faults of each before his very eyes. 


But what saith God? — "Had it been possible, Epictetus, I 
would have made both that body of thine and thy possessions 
free and unimpeded, but as it is, be not deceived: — it is not 
thine own; it is but finely tempered clay. Since then this 
I could not do, I have given thee a portion of Myself, in the 

^ I. e., " good and just men." •c^-.i^tj 

2 C. Musonius Rufus, a Stoic philosopher, whose lectures Epictetus had 


power of desiring and declining and of pursuing and avoid- 
ing, and in a word the power of dealing with the things of 
sense. And if thou neglect not this, but place all that thou 
hast therein, thou shalt' never be let or hindered ; thou shalt 
never lament; thou shalt not blame or flatter any. What 
then? Seemeth this to thee a little thing?/' — God forbid! — ? 
"Be content then therewith ! " 
And so I pray the Gods. 


What saith Antisthenes?' Hast thou never heard? — - 
It is a kingly thing, O Cyrus, to do well and to be evil 
spoken of. 


" Ay, but to debase myself thus were unworthy of me." 
" That," said Epictetus, " is for you to consider, not for 
me. You know yourself what you are worth in your own 
eyes ; and at what price you will sell yourself. For men sell 
themselves at various prices. This was why, when Florus 
was deliberating whether he should appear at Nero's shows, 
taking part in the performance himself, Agrippinus replied, 
* Appear by all means.' And when Florus inquired, * But why 
do not you appear?' he answered, 'Because I do not even 
consider the question.' For the man who has once stooped to 
consider such questions, and to reckon up the value of ex- 
ternal things, is not far from forgetting what manner of 
man he is. "Why, what is it that you ask me? Is death 
preferable, or life ? I reply, Life. Pain or pleasure ? I re- 
ply, Pleasure." 

" Well, but if I do not act, I shall lose my head." 
" Then go and act ! But for my part I will not act." 

" Because you think yourself but one among the many 
threads which make up the texture of the doublet. You 
should aim at being like men in general — just as your thread 
has no ambition either to be anything distinguished compared 
with the other threads. But I desire to be the purple — that 
small and shining part which makes the rest seem fair and 
beautiful. Why then do you bid me become even as the 
multitude? Then were I no longer the purple." 

* The founder of the Cynic school of philosophy. 



If a man could be thoroughly penetrated, as he ought, with 
this thought, that we are all in an especial manner sprung 
from God, and that God is the Father of men as well as of 
Gods, full surely he would never conceive aught ignoble or 
base of himself. Whereas if Cs'sar were to adopt you, your 
haughty looks would be intolerable ; will you not be elated at 
knowing that you are the son of God? Now however it is 
not so with us : but seeing that in our birth these two things 
are commingled — the body which we share with the animals, 
and the Reason and Thought which we share with the Gods, 
many decline tov/ards this unhappy kinship with the dead, 
few rise to the blessed kinship with the Divine. Since then 
every one must deal with each thing according to the view 
which he forms about it, those few who hold that they are 
born for fidelity, modesty, and unerring sureness in dealing 
with the things of sense, never conceive aught base or ignoble 
of themselves : but the multitude the contrary. "VVhy, what 
am I? — A wretched human creature; with this miserable 
flesh of mine. Miserable indeed ! but you have something 
better than that paltry flesh of yours. Why then cling to the 
one, and neglect the other? 


Thou art but a poor soul laden with a lifeless body. 


The other day I had an iron lamp placed beside my house- 
hold gods. I heard a noise at the door and on hastening 
down found my lamp carried off. I reflected that the culprit 
was in no very strange case. " To-morrow, my friend," I 
said, " you will find an earthenware lamp ; for a man can 
only lose what he has." 


The reason why I lost my lamp was that the thief was 
superior to me in vigilance. He paid however this price for 
the lamp, that in exchange for it he consented to become a 
thief : in exchange for it, to become faithless. 



But God hath introduced Man to be a spectator of Himself 
and of His works; and not a spectator only, but also an in- 
terpreter of them. Wherefore it is a shame for man to begin 
and to leave off where the brutes do. Rather he should begin 
there, and leave off where Nature leaves off in us : and that 
is at contemplation, and understanding, and a manner of life 
that is in harmony with herself. 

See then that ye die not without being spectators of these 


You journey to Olympia to see the work of Phidias; and 
each of you holds it a misfortune not to have beheld these 
things before you die. Whereas when there is no need even 
to take a journey, but you are on the spot, with the works 
before you, have you no care to contemplate and study these ? 

Will you not then perceive either who you are or unto what 
end you were born: or for what purpose the power of con- 
templation has been bestowed upon you? 

" Well, but in life there are some things disagreeable and 
hard to bear." 

And are there none at Olympia ? Are you not scorched by 
the heat? Are you not cramped for room? Have you not 
to bathe with discomfort? Are you not drenched when it 
rains? Have you not to endure the clamour and shouting 
and such annoyances as these? Well, I suppose you set all 
this over against the splendour of the spectacle, and bear it 
patiently. What then? have you not received powers where- 
with to endure all that comes to pass ? have you not received 
greatness of heart, received courage, received fortitude? 
What care I, if I am great of heart, for aught that can come 
to pass ? What shall cast me down or disturb me ? What shall 
seem painful? Shall I not use the power to the end for 
which I received it, instead of moaning and wailing over 
what comes to pass? 


If what philosophers say of the kinship of God and Men 
be true what remains for men to do but as Socrates did: — 


never, when asked one's country, to answer, " I am an 
Athenian or a Corinthian," but " I am a citizen of the world." 


He that hath grasped the administration of the World, who 
hath learned that this Community, which consists of God and 
men, is the foremost and mightiest and most comprehensive 
of all: — that from God have descended the germs of life, 
not to my father only and father's father, but to all things 
that are born and grow upon the earth, and in an especial 
manner to those endowed with Reason (for those only are 
by their nature fitted to hold communion with God, being by 
means of Reason conjoined with Him) — why should not 
such an one call himself a citizen of the world? Why not a 
son of God? Why should he fear aught that comes to pass 
among men? Shall kinship with Csesar, or any other of the 
great at Rome, be enough to hedge men around Vv^ith safety 
and consideration, without a thought of apprehension: while 
to have God for our Maker, and Father, and Kinsman, shall 
not this set us free from sorrows and fears? 


I do not think that an old fellow like me need have been 
sitting here to try and prevent your entertaining abject 
notions of yourselves, and talking of yourselves in an abject 
and ignoble way : but to prevent there being by chance among 
you any such young men as, after recognising their kindred 
to the Gods, and their bondage in these chains of the body 
and its manifold necessities, should desire to cast them off as 
burdens too grievous to be borne, and depart to their true 
kindred. This is the struggle in which your Master and 
Teacher, were he worthy of the name, should be engaged. 
You would come to me and say: " Epictetus, we can no 
longer endure being chained to this wretched body, giving 
it food and drink and rest and purification; aye, and for its 
sake forced to be subservient to this man and that. Are 
not these things indifferent and nothing to us? Is it not 
true that death is no evil ? Are we not in a manner kinsmen 
of the Gods, and have we not come from them? Let us 
depart thither, whence we came : let us be freed from these 


chains that confine and press us down. Here are thieves 
and robbers and tribunals: and they that are called tyrants, 
who deem that they have after a fashion power over us, be- 
cause of the miserable body and what appertains to it. Let 
us show them that they have power over none." 


And to this I reply: — 

"Friends, wait for God. When He gives the signal, and 
releases you from this service, then depart to Him. But for 
the present, endure to dv/ell in the place wherein He hath 
assigned you your post. Short indeed is the time of your 
habitation therein, and easy to those that are thus minded. 
What tyrant, what robber, what tribunals have any terrors 
for those who thus esteem the body and all that belong to it 
as of no account ? Stay ; depart not rashly hence ! " 


Something like that is what should pass between a teacher 
and ingenuous youths. As it is, what does pass? The 
teacher is a lifeless body, and you are lifeless bodies your- 
selves. When you have had enough to eat to-day, you sit 
down and weep about to-morrow's food. Slave ! if you have 
it, well and good ; if not, you will depart : the door is open — 
why lament ? What further room is there for tears ? What 
further occasion for flattery? Why should one envy an- 
other? Why should you stand in awe of them that have 
much or are placed in power, especially if they be also 
strong and passionate? Why, what should they do to us? 
What they can do, we will not regard: what does concern 
us, that they cannot do. Who then shall still rule one that 
is thus minded? 


Seeing this then, and noting well the faculties which you 
have, you should say, — " Send now, O God, any trial that 
Thou wilt; lo, I have means and powers given me by Thee 
to acquit myself with honour through whatever comes to 
pass ! " — No ; but there you sit, trembling for fear certain 
things should come to pass, and moaning and groaning and 
lamenting over v^^hat does come to pass. And then you up- 


braid the Gods. Such meanness of spirit can have but one 
result — impiety. 

Yet God has not only given us these faculties by means 
of which we may bear everything that comes to pass without 
being crushed or depressed thereby; but like a good King 
and Father, He has given us this without let or hindrance, 
placed wholly at our own disposition, without reserving to 
Himself any power of impediment or restraint. Though 
possessing all these things free and all your own, you do 
not use them ! you do not perceive what it is you have re- 
ceived nor whence it comes, but sit moaning and groaning; 
some of you blind to the Giver, making no acknowledgment 
to your Benefactor ; others basely giving themselves to com- 
plaints and accusations against God. 

Yet what faculties and powers you possess for attaining 
courage and greatness of heart, I can easily show you ; what 
you have for upbraiding and accusation, it is for you to 
show me ! 


How did Socrates bear himself in this regard ? How else 
than as became one who was fully assured that he was the 
kinsman of the Gods? 


If God had made that part of His own nature which He 
severed from Himself and gave to us, liable to be hindered 
or constrained either by Himself or any other. He would not 
have been God, nor would He have been taking care of us 
as He ought. . . . H you choose, you are free; if you 
choose, you need blame no man — accuse no man. Ail things 
will be at once according to your mind and according to the 
Mind of God. 


Petrifaction is of two sorts. There is petrifaction of the 
understanding; and also of the sense of shame. This hap- 
pens when a man obstinately refuses to acknowledge plain 
truths, and persists in maintaining what is self-contradictory. 
Most of us dread mortification of the body, and would spare 
no pains to escape anything of that kind. But of mortification 
of the soul we are utterly heedless. With regard, indeed, to 


the soul, if a man is in such a state as to be incapable of 
following or understanding anything, I grant you we do 
think him in a bad way. But mortification of the sense of 
shame and modesty we go so far as to dub strength of mind ! 


If we were as intent upon our own business as the old 
fellows at Rome are upon what interests them, we too might 
perhaps accomplish something. I know a man older than 
I am, now Superintendent of the Corn-market at Rome, and 
I remember when he passed through this place on his way 
back from exile, what an account he gave me of his former 
life, declaring that for the future, once home again, his 
only care should be to pass his remaining years in quiet 
and tranquillity. " For how few years have I left ! " he cried. 
" That," I said, " you will not do ; but the moment the scent 
of Rome is in your nostrils, you will forget it all ; and if you 
can but gain admission to Court, you will be glad enough to 
elbow your way in, and thank God for it." " Epictetus," he 
replied, " if ever you find me setting as much as one foot 
within the Court, think what you will of me." 

Well, as it was, what did he do ? Ere ever he entered the 
city, he was met by a despatch from the Emperor. He took 
it, and forgot the whole of his resolutions. From that mo- 
ment, he has been piling one thing upon another. I should 
like to be beside him to remind him of what he said when 
passing this way, and to add. How much better a prophet 
I am than you ! 

What then? do I say man is not made for an active life? 
Far from it! . . . But there is a great difference between 
other men's occupations and ours. ... A glance at theirs 
will make it clear to you. All day long they do nothing 
but calculate, contrive, consult how to wring their profit out 
of food-stuffs, farm-plots and the like. . . . Whereas, I en- 
treat you to learn what the administration of the World is, 
and what place a Being endowed with reason holds therein : 
to consider what you are yourself, and wherein your Good 
and Evil consists. 



A man asked me to write to Rome on his behalf who, as 
most people thought, had met with misfortune; for having 
been before wealthy and distinguished, he had afterwards 
lost all and was living here. So I wrote about him in a 
humble style. He however on reading the letter returned 
it to me, with the words : " I asked for your help, not for 
your pity. No evil has happened unto me." 


True instruction is this : — to learn to wish that each thing 
should come to pass as it does. And how does it come to 
pass? As the Disposer has disposed it. Now He has dis- 
posed that there should be summer and winter, and plenty 
and dearth, and vice and virtue, and all such opposites, for 
the harmony of the whole. 


Have this thought ever present with thee, when thou 
losest any outward thing, what thou gainest in its stead; 
and if this be the more precious, say not, I have suffered loss. 


Concerning the Gods, there are who deny the very ex- 
istence of the Godhead; others say that it exists, but neither 
bestirs nor concerns itself nor has forethought for anything. 
A third party attribute to it existence and forethought, but 
only for great and heavenly matters, not for anything that 
is on earth. A fourth party admit things on earth as well 
as in heaven, but only in general, and not with respect to 
each individual. A fifth, of whom were Ulysses and Soc- 
rates, are those that cry: — 

/ move not without Thy knowledge ! 


Considering all these things, the good and true man sub- 
mits his judgment to Him that administers the Universe, 
even as good citizens to the law of the State. And he that 
Is being instructed should come thus minded:-— How may 
I in all things follow the Gods ; and, How may I rest satis- 


fied with the Divine Administration; and, How may I be- 
come free? For he is free for whom all things come to 
pass according to his will, and whom none can hinder. What 
then, is freedom madness? God forbid. For madness and 
freedom exist not together. 

" But I wish all that I desire to com.e to pass and in the 
manner that I desire." 

— You are mad, you are beside yourself. Know you not 
that Freedom is a glorious thing and of great worth? But 
that what I desired at random I should wish at random to 
come to pass, so far from being noble, may well be exceeding 


You must know that it is no easy thing for a principle 
to becom^e a man's own, unless each day he maintain it and 
hear it maintained, as well as work it out in life. 


You are impatient and hard to please. If alone, you call it 
solitude: if in the company of men, you dub them conspira- 
tors and thieves, and find fault with 3^our very parents, chil- 
dren, brothers and neighbours. Whereas when by yourself 
you should have called it Tranquillity and Freedom: and 
herein deemed yourself like unto the Gods. And when in 
the company of the many, you should not have called it a 
wearisome crowd and tumult, but an assembly and a tri- 
bunal; and thus accepted all with contentment. 


What then is the chastisement of those wHo accept it not? 
To be as they are. Is any discontented with being alone? 
let him be in solitude. Is any discontented with his parents ? 
let him be a bad son, and lament. Is any discontented with 
his children ? let him be a bad father. — " Throw him into 
prison ! " — What prison ? — Where he is already : for he is 
there against his will; and wherever a man is against his 
v/ill, that to him is a prison. Thus Socrates was not in 
prison, since he was there with his own consent. 



Knowest thou what a speck thou art in comparison with 
the Universe ? — That is, with respect to the body ; since with 
respect to Reason, thou art not inferior to the Gods, nor 
less than they. For the greatness of Reason is not measured 
by length or height, but by the resolves of the mind. Place 
then thy happiness in that wherein thou art equal to the 


Asked how a man might eat acceptably to the Gods, 
Epictetus replied : — If when he eats, he can be just, cheerful, 
equable, temperate, and orderly, can he not thus eat accept- 
ably to the Gods? But when you call for warm water, and 
your slave does not answer, or when he answers brings it 
luke-warm, or is not even found to be in the house at all, 
then not to be vexed nor burst with anger, is not that accept- 
able to the Gods? 

" But how can one endure such people ? " 

Slave, will you not endure your own brother, that has 
God to his forefather, even as a son sprung from the same 
stock, and of the same high descent as yourself? And if 
you are stationed in a high position, are you therefore forth- 
with to set up for a tyrant? Remember who you are, and 
whom you rule, that they are by nature your kinsmen, your 
brothers, the offspring of God. 

" But I paid a price for them, not they for me." 

Do you see whither you are looking — down to the earth, 
to the pit, to those despicable laws of the dead? But to 
the laws of the Gods you do not look. 


When we are invited to a banquet we take what is set be- 
fore us ; and were one to call upon his host to set fish upon 
the table or sweet things, he would be deemed absurd. Yet 
in a word, we ask the Gods for what they do not give; and 
that, although they have given us so many things ! 



Asked how a man might convince himself that every 
single act of his was under the eye of God, Epictetus an- 
swered: — 

" Do you not hold that all things are bound together in 

" I do." 

" Well, and do you not hold that things on earth and 
things in heaven are continuous and in unison with each 

" I do," was the reply. 

" Else how should the trees so regularly, as though by 
God's command, at His bidding flower; at His bidding send 
forth shoots, bear fruit and ripen it; at His bidding let it 
fall and shed their leaves, and folded up upon themselves lie 
in quietness and rest? How else, as the Moon waxes and 
wanes, as the Sun approaches and recedes, can it be that 
such vicissitude and alternation is seen in earthly things? 

" If then all things that grow, nay our own bodies are thus 
bound up with the whole, is not this still truer of our souls? 
And if our souls are bound up and in contact with God, as 
being very parts and fragments plucked from Himself, shall 
He not feel every movement of theirs as though it ,were His 
own, and belonging to His own nature ? " 

" But," you say, " I cannot comprehend all this at once." 
" Why, who told you that your powers were equal to 

Yet God hath placed by the side of each a man's own 
Guardian Spirit,* who is charged to watch over him — a 
Guardian who sleeps not nor is deceived. For to what better 
or more watchful Guardian could He have committed each 
of us? So when you have shut the doors and made a dark- 
ness within, remember never to say that you are alone; for 
you are not alone, but God is within, and your Guardian 
Spirit, and what light do they need to behold what you do? 
To this God you also should have sworn allegiance, even as 
soldiers unto Caesar. They when their service is hired, swear 

*To the Stoics the Guardian Spirit was each man's Reason. 

5 HC— Vol. 2 


to hold the life of Caesar dearer than all else : and \¥ill you 
not sv/ear your oath, that are deemed worthy of so many and 
great gifts? And will you not keep your oath when you 
have sworn it? And what oath will you swear? Never to 
disobey, never to arraign or murmur at aught that comes to 
you from His hand: never unwillingly to do or suffer aught 
that necessity lays upon you. 

" Is this oath like theirs ? " 

They sv/ear to hold no other dearer than Caesar: you, to 
hold our true selves dearer than all else beside. 


" How shall my brother cease to be wroth with me ? " 
Bring to him to me, and I will tell him. But to thee I 
have nothing to say about his anger. 


"When one took counsel of Epictetus, saying, " What I seek 
is this, how even though my brother be not reconciled to 
me, I may still remain as Nature would have me to be," 
he replied: "All great things are slow of grov/th; nay, 
this is true even of a grape or of a fig. If then you say 
to me now, I desire a fig, I shall answer. It needs time : wait 
till it first flower, then cast its blossom, then ripen. Whereas 
then the fruit of the fig-tree reaches not maturity suddenly 
nor yet in a single hour, do you nevertheless desire so 
quickly and easily to reap the fruit of the mind of — 
Nay, expect it not, even though I bade you 1 " 


Epaphroditus^ had a shoemaker whom he sold as being 
good-for-nothing. This fellow, by some accident, was after- 
wards purchased by one of Csesar's men, and became shoe- 
maker to Csesar. You should have seen what respect Epaph- 
roditus paid him then. " How does the good Felicion ? 
Kindly let me know ! " A^nd if any of us inquired, " What 
is Epaphroditus doing?" the answer was, "He is consulting 
about so and so with Felicion." — Had he not sold him as 
good-for-nothing? Who had in a trice converted him into 
a wiseacre? 

^A freedman of Nero, and at one time owner of Epictetus. 


This is what comes of holding of importance anything but 
the things that depend on the Will. 


What you shun enduring yourself, attempt not to impose 
on others. You shun slavery — beware of enslaving others ! 
If you can endure to do that, one would think you had been 
once upon a time a slave yourself. For Vice has nothing 
in common with virtue, nor Freedom with slavery. 


Has a man been raised to the tribuneship? Every one 
that he meets congratulates him. One kisses him on the 
eyes, another on the neck, while the slaves kiss his hands. 
He goes home to find torches burning; he ascends to the 
Capitol to sacrifice — Who ever sacrificed for having had 
right desires ; for having conceived such inclinations as 
Nature would have him? In truth we thank the Gods for 
that wherein yvQ place our happiness. 


A man was talking to me to-day about the priesthood of 
Augustus. I said to him, " Let the thing go, my good Sir ; 
you will spend a great deal to no purpose." 

" Well, but my name will be inserted in all documents 
and contracts." 

" Will you be standing there to tell those that read them, 
That is my name written there ? And even though you could 
now be there in every case, what will you do when you are 

" At all events my name w^ill remain." 

" Inscribe it on a stone and it will remain just as well. 
And think, beyond Nicopolis what memory of you will there 

" But I shall have a golden wreath to wear." 

" If you must have a wreath, get a wreath of roses and 
put it on ; you will look more elegant ! " 


Above all, remember that the door stands open. Be not 
more fearful than children; but as they, when they weary 


of the game, cry, " I will play no more," even so, when thou 
art in the like case, cry, " I will play no morp "' and depart. 
But if thou stayest, make no lamentation. 


Is there smoke in the room? If it be slight, I remain; if 
grievous, I quit it. For you must remember this and hold 
it fast, that the door stands open. 

" You shall not dwell at Nicopolis ! " 

Well and good. 

"Nor at Athens." 

Then I will not dwell at Athens either. 

" Nor at Rome." 

Nor at Rome either. 

" You shall dwell in Gyara ! " ' 

Well: but to dwell in Gyara seems to me like a grievous 
smoke; I depart to a place where none can forbid me to 
dwell : that habitation is open unto all ! As for the last gar- 
ment of all, that is the poor body ; beyond that, none can do 
aught unto me. This is why Demetrius' said to Nero : " You 
threaten me with death ; it is Nature who threatens you ! " 


The beginning of philosophy is to know the condition of 
one's own mind. If a man recognises that this is in a weakly 
state, he will not then want to apply it to questions of the 
greatest moment. As it is, men who are not fit to swallow 
even a morsel, buy whole treatises and try to devour them. 
Accordingly they either vomit them up again, or suffer from 
indigestion, whence come gripings, fluxions, and fevers. 
Whereas they should have stopped to consider their 


In theory it is easy to convince an ignorant person: in 
actual life, men not only object to offer themselves to be 
convinced, but hate the man who has convinced them. 
Whereas Socrates used to say that we should never lead a 
life not subjected to examination. 

6 An island in the ^gean, used as a place of banishment. 
''A well-known Cynic philosopher. 



This is the reason why Socrates, when reminded that he 
should prepare for his trial, answered : " Thinkest thou not 
that I have been preparing for it all my life ? " 

" In what way ? " 

" I have maintained that which in me lay." 

"How so?" 

" I have never, secretly or openly, done a wrong unto any." 


In what character dost thou now come forward? 

As a witness summoned by God, " Come thou," saith 
God, " and testify for me, for thou art v/orthy of being 
brought forward as a witness by Me. Is aught that is 
outside thy will either good or bad ? Do I hurt any man ? 
Have I placed the good of each in the power of any other 
than himself ? What witness dost thou bear to God ? " 

" I am in evil state. Master, I am undone ! None careth 
for me, none giveth me aught: all men blame, all speak 
evil of me." 

Is this the witness thou wilt bear, and do dishonour to 
the calling wherewith He hath called thee, because He hath 
done thee so great honour, and deemed thee worthy of 
being summoned to bear witness in so great a cause? 


Wouldst thou have men speak good of thee? speak good 
of them. And when thou hast learned to speak good of 
them, try to do good unto them, and thus thou wilt reap 
in return their speaking good of thee. 


When thou goest in to any of the great, remember that 
Another from above sees what is passing, and that thou 
shouldst please Him rather than man. He therefore asks 
thee : — 

" In the Schools, what didst thou call exile, imprisonment, 
bonds, death and shame ? " 

" I called them things indifferent." 

" What then dost thou call them now ? Are they at all 
changed ? " 


" No." 

" Is it then thou that art changed? " 

" No." 

" Say then, what are things indifferent ? " 

" Things that are not in our power." 

" Say then, what follows ? " 

" That things which are not in our power are nothing 
to me." 

" Say also what things you hold to be good." 

" A will such as it ought to be, and a right use of the 
things of sense." 

" And what is the end ? " 

" To follow Thee I " 


" That Socrates should ever have been so treated by the 
Athenians ! " 

Slave ! why say " Socrates " ? Speak of the thing as it is : 
That ever then the poor body of Socrates should have been 
dragged away and haled by main force to prison ! That 
ever hemlock should have been given to the body of Socrates ; 
that that should have breathed its life away ! — Do you marvel 
at this? Do you hold this unjust? Is it for this that you 
accuse God ? Had Socrates no compensation for this ? Where 
then for him was the ideal Good? Whom shall we hearken 
to, you or him? And what says he? 

" Anytus and Melitus® may put me to death: to injure me 
is beyond their pov/er." 

And again : — 

" If such be the will of God, so let it be." 


Nay, young man, for heaven's sake; but once thou hast 
heard these words, go home and say to thyself : — '* It is 
not Epictetus that has told me these things: how indeed 
should he? No, it is some gracious God through him. Else 
it would never have entered his head to tell me them — he 
that is not used to speak to any one thus. Well, then, let 
us not lie under the wrath of God, but be obedient unto Him." 
— Nay, indeed ; but if a raven by its croaking bears thee any 

8 The accusers of Socrates. See Plato's Apology. 


sign, it is not the raven but God that sends the sign through 
the raven ; and if He signifies anything to thee through human 
voice, will He not cause the man to say these words to thee, 
that thou mayest know the power of the Divine — ^how He sends 
a sign to some in one v/ay and to others in another, and on 
the greatest and highest matters of all signifies His will 
through the noblest messenger? 
What else does the poet mean: — 

I spake unto him erst Myself, and sent 

Hermes the shining One, to check and warn him, 

The husband not to slay, nor woo the wife ! 

"' . . . V 

In the same way my friend Heraclitus, who had a triflmg 

suit about a petty farm at Rhodes, first showed the judges 
that his cause v/as just, and then at the finish cried, "I will 
not entreat you: nor do I care what sentence you pass. It 
is you who are on your trial, not I ! " — ^And so he ended the 



As for us, we behave like a herd of deer. When they flee 
from the huntsman's feathers^" in affright, which way do they 
turn? What haven of safety do they make for? Why, 
they rush upon the nets ! And thus they perish by confound- 
ing what they should fear with that wherein no danger lies. 
. . . Not death or pain is to be feared, but the fear of death 
or pain. Well said the poet therefore: — 

Death has no terror ; only a Death of shame ! 


How is it then that certain external things are said to be 
natural, and others contrary to Nature? 

Why, just as it might be said if we stood alone and apart 
from others. A foot, for instance, I will allow it is natural 
should be clean. But if you take it as a foot, and as a thing 
':which does not stand by itself, it will beseem it (if need be) 
to walk in the mud, to tread on thorns, and sometimes even 
to be cut off, for the benefit of the whole body ; else it is no 

® Or, " And so he lost his case " (Long). 
^Colored feathers fixed to ropes partly surrounding the cover. 


longer a foot. In some such way we should conceive of our- 
selves also. What art thou ? — A man. — Looked at as standing 
by thyself and separate, it is natural for thee in health and 
wealth long to live. But looked at as a Man, and only as a 
part of a Whole, it is for that Whole's sake that thou shouldst 
at one time fall sick, at another brave the perils of the sea, 
again, know the meaning of want and perhaps die an early 
death. Why then repine? Knowest thou not that as the 
foot is no more a foot if detached from the body, so thou in 
like case art no longer a Man ? For what is a Man ? A part 
of a City: — first, of the City of Gods and Men; next, of that 
which ranks nearest it, a miniature of the universal City. 
... In such a body, in such a world enveloping us, among 
lives like these, such things must happen to one or another. 
Thy part, then, being here, is to speak of these things as is 
meet, and to order them as befits the matter. 


That was a good reply which Diogenes made to a man 
who asked him for letters of recommendation. — " That you 
are a man, he will know when he sees you ; — v/hether a good 
or bad one, he will know if he has any skill in discerning the 
good and the bad. But if he has none, he will never know, 
though I write to him a thousand times." — It is as though a 
piece of silver money desired to be recommended to some one 
to be tested. If the man be a good judge of silver, he will 
know : the coin will tell its own tale. 


Even as the traveller asks his way of him that he meets, 
inclined in no wise to bear to the right rather than to the 
left (for he desires only the way leading whither he would 
go), so should we come unto God as to a guide; even as 
we use our eyes without admonishing them to show us some 
things rather than others, but content to receive the images 
of such things as they present unto us. But as it is we stand 
anxiously watching the victim, and with the voice of sup- 
plication call upon the augur : — " Master, have mercy on me : 
vouchsafe unto me a way of escape ! " Slave, would you then 
have aught else than what is best? is there anything better 


than what is God's good pleasure? Why, as far as in you 
lies, would you corrupt your Judge, and lead your Counsellor 
astray ? 


God is beneficent. But the Good also is beneficent. It 
should seem then that where the real nature of God is, there 
too is to be found the real nature of the Good. What then 
is the real nature of God? — Intelligence, Knowledge, Right 
Reason. Here then without more ado seek the real nature 
of the Good. For surely thou dost not seek it in a plant or 
in an animal that reasoneth not. 


Seek then the real nature of the Good in that without 
whose presence thou wilt not admit the Good to exist in 
aught else. — What then? Are not these other things also 
v/orks of God? — They are; but not preferred to honour, nor 
are they portions of God. But thou art a thing preferred to 
honour: thou art thyself a fragment torn from God: — thou 
hast a portion of Him within thyself. How is it then that 
thou dost not know thy high descent — dost not know whence 
thou comest? When thou eatest, wilt thou not remember 
who thou art that eatest and whom thou feedest? In inter- 
course, in exercise, in discussion knowest thou not that it is 
a God whom thou feedest, a God whom thou exercisest, a 
God whom thou bearest about with thee, O miserable ! and 
thou perceivest it not. Thinkest thou that I speak of a God 
of silver or gold, that is without thee? Nay, thou bearest 
Him within thee ! all unconscious of polluting Him with 
thoughts impure and unclean deeds. Were an image of 
God present, thou wouldst not dare to act as thou dost, yet, 
when God Himself is present within thee, beholding and hear- 
ing all, thou dost not blush to think such thoughts and do 
such deeds, O thou that art insensible of thine own nature 
and liest tmder the wrath of God ! 


Why then are we afraid when we send a young man 
from the Schools into active life, lest he should indulge his 
appetites intemperately, lest he should debase himself by 


ragged clothing, or be puffed up by fine raiment? Knows 
he not the God within him; knows he not with whom he is 
starting on his way? Have we patience to hear him say to 
us. Would I had thee with me ! — Hast thou not God where 
thou art, and having Him dost thou still seek for any other? 
Would He tell thee aught else than these things? Why, wert 
thou a statue of Phidias, an Athena or a Zens, thou wouldst 
bethink thee both of thyself and thine artificer ; and hadst thou 
any sense, thou wouldst strive to do no dishonour to thy- 
self or him that fashioned thee, nor appear to beholders in un- 
befitting guise. But now, because God is thy Maker, is that 
why thou carest not of what sort thou shalt show thyself to 
be ? Yet how different the artists and their workmanship ! 
What human artist's work, for example, has in it the fac- 
ulties that are displayed in fashioning it? Is it aught but 
marble, bronze, gold, or ivory? Nay, when the Athena of 
Phidias has put forth her hand and received therein a 
Victory, in that attitude she stands for evermore. But God's 
works move and breathe; they use and judge the things of 
sense. The workmanship of such an Artist, wilt thou dis- 
honour Him? Ay, when he not only fashioned thee, but 
placed thee, like a ward, in the care and guardianship of 
thyself alone, wilt thou not only forget this, but also do 
dishonour to what is committed to thy care ! If God had 
entrusted thee with an orphan, wouldst thou have thus 
neglected him? He hath delivered thee to thine own care, 
saying, I had none more faithful than myself: keep this man 
for me such as Nature hath made him — modest, faithful, 
high-minded, a stranger to fear, to passion, to perturba- 
tion. . . . 

Such will I show myself to you all. — " What, exempt from 
sickness also: from age, from death?" — Nay, but accepting 
sickness, accepting death as becomes a God! 


No labour, according to Diogenes, is good but that which 
aims at producing courage and strength of soul rather than 
of body. 



A guide, on finding a man who has lost his way, brings 
him back to the right path — he does not mock and jeer at 
him and then take himself off. You also must show the 
unlearned man the truth, and you will see that he will follow. 
But so long as you do not show it him, you should not mock, 
but rather feel your own incapacity. 


It was the first and most striking characteristic of Socrates 
never to become heated in discourse, never to utter an in- 
jurious or insulting v/ord — on the contrary, he persistently 
bore insult from others and thus put an end to the fray. If 
you care to know the extent of his power in this direction, 
read Xenophon's Banquet, and you will see how many quar- 
rels he put an end to. That is why the Poets are right in so 
highly commending this faculty: — 

Quickly and wisely withal even bitter feuds would he settle. 

Nevertheless the practice is not very safe at present, 
especially in Rome. One who adopts it, I need not say, ought 
not to carry it out in an obscure corner, but boldly accost, 
if occasion serve, som.e personage of rank or wealth. 

" Can you tell me, sir, to whose care you entrust your 
horses ? " 

it T „ " 

1 can. 

" Is it to the first comer, who knows nothing about them? " 

"Certainly not." 

" Well, what of the man who takes care of your gold, 
your silver or your raim.ent ? " 

" He must be experienced also." 

" And your body — have you ever considered about entrust- 
ing it to any one's care ? " 

" Of course I have." 

" And no doubt to a person of experience as a trainer, a 
physician ? 

" Surely." 

" Are these things the best you possess^ or have you any- 
thing more precious ? " 

-' What can you mean ? " 


" I mean that which employs these ; which weighs all 
things ; which talces counsel and resolve." 

" Oh, you mean the soul." 

"You take me rightly; I do mean the soul. By Heaven, 
I hold that far more precious than all else I possess. Can 
you show me then what care you bestow on the soul? For 
it can scarcely be thought that a man of your wisdom and 
consideration in the city would suffer your most precious 
possession to go to ruin through carelessness and neglect." 

" Certainly not." 

"Well, do you take care of it yourself? Did any one 
teach you the right method, or did you discover it yourself ? " 

Now here comes in the danger: first, that the great man 
may answer, "Why, what is that to you, my good fellow? 
are you my master ? " And then, if you persist in troubling 
him, may raise his hand to strike you. It is a practice of 
which I was myself a warm admirer until such experiences 
as these befell me. 


When a youth was giving himself airs in the Theatre and 
saying, " I am wise, for I have conversed with many wise 
m«n," Epictetus replied, " I too have conversed with many 
rich men, yet I am not rich ! " 


We see that a carpenter becomes a carpenter by learning 
certain things: that a pilot, by learning certain things, 
becomes a pilot. Possibly also in the present case the 
mere desire to be wise and good is not enough. It is neces- 
sary to learn certain things. This is then the object of our 
search. The Philosophers would have us first learn that 
there is a God, and that His Providence directs the Universe ; 
further, that to hide from Him not only one's acts but even 
one's thoughts and intentions is impossible; secondly, what 
the nature of God is. Whatever that nature is discovered to 
be, the man who would please and obey Him must strive with 
all his might to be made like unto Him. If the Divine is 
faithful, he also must be faithful; if free, he also must be 
free; if beneficent, he also must be beneficent; if mag- 


nanimous, he also must be magnanimous. Thus as an imita- 
tor of God must he follow Him in every deed and word. 


If I show you, that you lack just what is most important 
and necessary to happiness, that hitherto your attention has 
been bestowed on everything rather than that which claims 
it most; and, to crown all, that you know neither what God 
nor Man is — neither what Good nor Evil is: why, that you 
are ignorant of everything else, perhaps you may bear to 
be told; but to hear that you know nothing of yourself, how 
could you submit to that ? How could you stand your ground 
and suffer that to be proved? Clearly not at all. You 
instantly turn away in wrath. Yet what harm have I done 
you? Unless indeed the mirror harms the ill-favoured man 
by showing him to himself just as he is; unless the physician 
can be thought to insult his patient, when he tells him: — 
" Friend, do you suppose there is nothing wrong with you ? 
why, you have a fever. Eat nothing to-day, and drink only 
water." Yet no one says, " What an insufferable insult ! " 
Whereas, if you say to a man, " Your desires are inflamed, 
your instincts of rejection are weak and low, your aims are 
inconsistent, your impulses are not in harmony with Nature, 
your opinions are rash and false," he forthwith goes away 
and complains that you have insulted him. 


Our way of life resembles a fair. The flocks and herds 
are passing along to be sold, and the greater part of the 
crowd to buy and sell. But there are some few who come 
only to look at the fair, to inquire how and why it is being 
held, upon what authority and with what object. So too, 
in this great Fair of life, some, like the cattle, trouble them- 
selves about nothing but the fodder. Know all of you, who 
are busied about land, slaves and public posts, that these 
are nothing but fodder! Some few there are attending the 
Fair, who love to contemplate what the world is, what He 
that administers it. Can there be no Administrator? is it 
possible, that while neither city nor household could endure 
even for a moment without one to administer and see to its 


welfare, this Fabric, so fair, so vast, should be administered 
in order so harmonious, without a purpose and by blind 
chance? There is therefore an Administrator. What is 
His nature and how does He administer? And who are we 
that are His children and what work were we born to per- 
form? Have we any close connection or relation with Him 
or not? 

Such are the impressions of the few of whom I speak. 
And further, they apply themselves solely to considering 
and examining the great assembly before they depart. Well, 
they are derided by the multitude. So are the lookers-on 
by the traders : aye, and if the beasts had any sense, they 
would deride those who thought much of anything but 
fodder 1 


I think I know now what I never knew before — the mean- 
ing of the common saying, A fool you can neither bend nor 
break. Pray heaven I may never have a wise fool for my 
friend ! There is nothing more intractable. — " My resolve 
is fixed ! " — Why, so madmen say too ; but the more firmly 
they believe in their delusions, the more they stand in need 
of treatment. 


— " O ! when shall I see Athens and its Acropolis again ? " 
— Miserable man ! art thou not contented with the daily 
sights that meet thine eyes ? canst thou behold aught greater 
or nobler than the Sun, Moon, and Stars ; than the outspread 
Earth and Sea? If indeed thou apprehendest Him who 
administers the universe, if thou bearest Him about within 
thee, canst thou still hanker after mere fragments of stone 
and a fine rock ? When thou art about to bid farewell to the 
Sun and Moon itself, wilt thou sit down and cry like a child ? 
Why, what didst thou hear, what didst thou learn ? why didst 
thou write thyself down a philosopher, when thou mightest 
have written what was the fact, namely, " I have made one 
or two Compendiums, I have read some works of Chrysippus, 
and I have not even touched the hem of Philosophy's robe " ! 



Friend, lay hold with a desperate grasp, ere it is too late, on 
Freedom, on Tranquillity, on Greatness of soul ! Lift up thy 
head, as one escaped from slavery; dare to look up to God, 
and say : — " Deal with me henceforth as Thou wilt ; Thou 
and I are of one mind. I am Thine: I refuse nothing that 
seemeth good to Thee ; lead on whither Thou wilt ; clothe me 
in what garb Thou pleasest; wilt Thou have me a ruler or 
a subject — at hom.e or in exile — poor or rich? All these 
things will I justify unto men for Thee. I will show the 
true nature of each. ..." 

Who would Hercules have been had he loitered at home? 
no Hercules, but Eurystheus. And in his wanderings 
through the world how many friends and com.rades did he 
find? but nothing dearer to him than God. Wherefore he 
was believed to be God's son, as indeed he was. So then 
in obedience to Him, he went about delivering the earth 
from injustice and lawlessness. 

But thou art not Hercules, thou sayest, and canst not de- 
liver others from their iniquity — not even Theseus, to deliver 
the soil of Attica from its monsters ? Purge away thine own, 
cast forth thence — from thine own mind, not robbers and 
monsters, but Fear, Desire, Envy, Malignity, Avarice, Ef- 
feminacy, Intemperance. And these may not be cast out, 
except by looking to God alone, by fixing thy affections on 
Him only, and by consecrating thyself to His com.mands. 
If thou choosest aught else, with sighs and groans thou vnlt 
be forced to follow a Might greater than thine own, ever 
seeking Tranquillity without, and never able to attain unto 
her. For thou seekest her where she is not to be found; 
and where she is, there thou seekest her not ! 


If a man would pursue Philosophy, his first task is to throw 
away conceit. For it is im.possible for a man to begin to 
learn what he has a conceit that he already know<5. 


Give me but one young man, that has com.e to the School 
with this mtention, who stands forth a champion of this 


cause, and says, "All else I renounce, content if I am btit 
able to pass my life free from hindrance and trouble; to 
raise my head aloft and face all things as a free man; to 
look up to heaven as a friend of God, fearing nothing that 
may come to pass ! " Point out such a one to me, that I may 
say, " Enter, young man, into possession of that which is 
thine own. For thy lot is to adorn Philosophy. Thine are 
these possessions ; thine these books, these discourses ! " 

And when our champion has dlily exercised himself in 
this part of the subject, I hope he will come back to me 
and say : — " What I desire is to be free from passion and 
from perturbation; as one who grudges no pains in the 
pursuit of piety and philosophy, what I desire is to know my 
duty to the Gods, my duty to my parents, to my brothers, 
to my country, to strangers." 

"Enter then on the second part of the subject; it is 
thine also." 

" But I have already mastered the second part ; only I 
wished to stand firm and unshaken — as firm when asleep 
as when awake, as firm when elated with wine as in despon- 
dency and dejection." 

" Friend, you are verily a God ! you cherish great designs." 


" The question at stake," said Epictetus, " is no common 
one; it is this: — Are we in our senses, or are we not?" 


If you "have given way to anger, be sure that over and 
above the evil involved therein, you have strengthened the 
habit, and added fuel to the fire. If overcome by a tempta- 
tion of the flesh, do not reckon it a single defeat, but that 
you have also strengthened your dissolute habits. Habits 
and faculties are necessarily affected by the corresponding 
acts. Those that were not there before, spring up : the rest 
gain in strength and extent. This is the account which 
Philosophers give of the origin of diseases of the mind:— 
Suppose you have once lusted after money: if reason sufi^i- 
cient to produce a sense of the evil be appHed, then the lust 
is checked, and the mind at once regains its original author- 


It}''; whereas if you have recourse to no remedy, you can 
no longer look for this return — on the contrary, the next 
time it is excited by the corresponding object, the flame of 
desire leaps up more quickly than before. By frequent 
repetition, the mind in the long run becomes callous; and 
thus this mental disease produces confirmed Avarice. 

One who has had fever, even when it has left him, is not 
in the same condition of health as before, unless indeed his 
cure is complete. Something of the sam^e sort is true also 
of diseases of the mind. Behind, there remains a legacy 
of traces and of blisters: and unless these are effectually 
erased, subsequent blows on the same spot will produce no 
longer mere blisters, but sores. If you do not wish to 
be prone to anger, do not feed the habit; give it nothing 
which may tend to its increase. At first, keep quiet and 
count the days when you were not angry : " I used to be 
angry every day, then every other day: next every two, 
next every three days ! " and if you succeed in passing thirty 
days, sacrifice to the Gods in thanksgiving. 


How then may this be attained? — Resolve, now if never 
before, to approve thyself to thyself; resolve to shov/ thyself 
fair in God's sight; long to be pure with thine own pure 
self and God! 


That is the true athlete, that trains himself to resist such 
outward impressions as these. 

" Stay, wretched man ! suffer not thyself to be carried 
away ! " Great is the combat, divine the task ! you are 
fighting for Kingship, for Liberty, for Happiness, for Tran- 
quillity. Remember God: call upon Him to aid thee, like 
a comrade that stands beside thee in the fight. 


Who then is a Stoic- — in the sense that we call that a 
statue of Phidias which is modelled after that master's art? 
Show me a man in this sense modelled after the doctrines 
that are ever upon his lips. Show me a man that is sick — 
and happy; in danger — and happy; on his death-bed-^and 


happy; an exile — and happy; in evil report — and happy! 
Show me him, I ask again. So help me Heaven, I long to see 
one Stoic ! Nay, if you cannot show me one fully modelled, let 
m.e at least see one in whom the process is at work — one whose 
bent is in that direction. Do me that favour ! Grudge it not to 
an old man, to behold a sight that he has never yet beheld. 
Think you I vv^ish to see the Zeiis or Athena of Phidias, be- 
decked with gold and ivory? — Nay, show me, one of you, a 
human soul, desiring to be of one mind with God, no more to 
lay .blame on God or man, to suffer nothing to disappoint, noth- 
ing to cross him, to yield neither to anger, envy, nor jealousy 
— in a word, why disguise the matter? one that from a man 
would fain become a God; one that while still imprisoned 
in this dead body makes fellowship with God his aim. Show 
me him ! — Ah, you cannot ! Then why mock yourselves and 
delude others? why stalk about tricked out in other men's 
attire, thieves and robbers that you are of names and things 
to which you can show no title ! 


If you have assum^ed a character beyond your strength, 
you have both played a poor figure in that, and neglected 
one that is within your powers. 


Fellow, you have come to blows at home with a slave: 
you have turned the household upside down, and thrown the 
neighbourhood into confusion ; and do you come to me then 
with airs of assumed modesty — do you sit down like a sage 
and criticise my explanation of the readings, and whatever 
idle babble you say has come into my head ? Have you come 
full of envy, and dejected because nothing is sent you from 
home; and while the discussion is going on, do you sit 
brooding on nothing but hov7 5^our father or your brother 
are disposed towards you :— " What are they saying about 
me there? at this moment they imagine I am making prog- 
ress and saying, He will return perfectly omniscient ! I wish 
I could becomiC omniscient before I return; but that would 
be very troublesome. No one sends me anything — the baths 
at Nicopolis are dirty; things are wretched at home and 


wretched here." And then they say, " Nobody is any the 
better for the School." — Who comes to the School with a 
sincere wish to learn: to submit his principles to correction 
and himself to treatment? Who, to gain a sense of his 
wants ? Why then be surprised if you carry home from the 
School exactly what you bring into it? 


" Epictetus, I have often come desiring to hear you speak, 
and you have never given me any answer; now if possible, 
I entreat you, say something to me.'* 

" Is there, do you think," replied Epictetus, " an art of 
speaking as of other things, if it is to be done skilfully and 
with profit to the hearer ? " 

" Yes." 

" And are all profited by what they hear, or only some 
among them? So that it seems there is an art of hearing 
as well as of speaking. ... To make a statue needs skill: 
to viev/ a statue aright needs skill also." 

" Admitted." 

" And I think all will allow that one who proposes to hear 
philosophers speak needs a considerable training in hearing. 
Is that not so? Then tell me on what subject you are able 
to hear me." 

" Why, on good and evil." 

" The good and evil of what ? a horse, an ox ? " 

"No; of a man." 

"Do we know then what Man is? what his nature is? 
what is the idea we have of him? And are our ears prac- 
tised in any degree on the subject? Nay, do you understand 
what Nature is? can you follow me in any degree when I 
say that I shall have to use demonstration? Do you under- 
stand what Demonstration is? what True or False is? . . , 
must I drive you to Philosophy? . . . Show me what good 
I am to do by discoursing with you. Rouse my desire to 
do so. The sight of the pasture it loves stirs in a sheep 
the desire to feed : show it a stone or a bit of bread and it 
remains unmoved. Thus we also have certain natural de- 
sires, aye, and one that moves us to speak when we find a 
.listener that is worth his salt: one that himself stirs the 


spirit. But if he sits by like a stone or a tuft of grass, how 
can he rouse a man's desire ? " 

" Then you will say nothing to me ? " 

" I can only tell you this : that one who knows not who 
he is and to what end he was born; what kind of world 
this is and with whom he is associated therein ; one who can- 
not distinguish Good and Evil, Beauty and Foulness, , . . 
Truth and Falsehood, will never follov/ Reason in shaping 
his desires and impulses and repulsions, nor yet in assent, 
denial, or suspension of judgment; but will in one word go 
about deaf and blind, thinking himself to be somewhat, when 
he is in truth of no account. Is there anything new in all 
this? Is not this ignorance the cause of all the mistakes and 
mischances of men since the human race began? . . ." 

" This is all I have to say to you, and even this against 
the grain. Why? Because you have not stirred my spirit. 
For what can I see in you to stir me, as a spirited horse will 
fetir a judge of horses? Your body? That you maltreat. 
Your dress ? That is luxurious. Your behaviour, your look ? 
r^-Nothing whatever. When you want to hear a philosopher, 
do not say, 'You say nothing to me'; only show yourself 
worthy or fit to hear, and then you will see how you will 
move the speaker." 


And now, when you see brothers apparently good friends 
and living in accord, do not immediately pronounce any- 
thing upon their friendship, though they should affirm it 
with an oath, though they should declare, " For us to live 
apart is a thing impossible ! " For the heart of a bad man 
is faithless, unprincipled, inconstant: now overpowered by 
one impression, now by another. Ask not the usual ques- 
tions, Were they born of the same parents, reared together, 
and under the same tutor; but ask this only, in what they 
place their real interest — whether in outvv^ard things or in 
the Will. If in outward things, call them not friends, any 
more than faithful, constant, brave or free: call them 
not even human beings, if you have any sense. . * . But 
should you hear that these men hold the Good to lie only 
in the Will, only in rightly dealing with the things of sense, 


take no more trouble to inquire whether they are father and 
son or brothers, or comrades of long standing; but, sure of 
this one thing, pronounce as boldly that they are friends 
as that they are faithful and just: for where else can Friend- 
ship be found than where Modesty is, where there is an 
interchange of things fair and honest, and of such only? 


No man can rob us of our Will — no man can lord it over 
that ! 


When disease and death overtake me, I would fain be 
found engaged in the task of liberating mine own Will from 
the assaults of passion, from hindrance, from resentment, 
from slavery. 

Thus would I fain be found employed, so that I may say 
to God, " Have I in aught transgressed Thy commands ? 
Have I in aught perverted the faculties, the senses, the 
natural principles that Thou didst give me? Have I ever 
blamed Thee or found fault with Thine administration? 
When it was Thy good pleasure, I fell sick — and so did 
other men: but my will consented. Because it was Thy 
pleasure, I became poor, — but my heart rejoiced. No power 
in the State was mine, because Thou wouldst not: such 
power I never desired ! Hast Thou ever seen me of more 
doleful countenance on that account? Have I not ever 
drawn nigh unto Thee with cheerful look, waiting upon Thy 
commands, attentive to Thy signals ? Wilt Thou that I now 
depart from the great Assembly of men? I go: I give Thee 
?11 thanks, that Thou hast deemed me worthy to take part 
with Thee in this Assembly: to behold Thy works, to com- 
prehend this Thine administration." 

Such I would were the subject of my thoughts, my pen, 
my study, when death overtakes me. 


Seemeth it nothing to you, never to accuse, never to blame 
either God or Man? to wear ever the same countenance in 
going forth as in coming in? This was the secret of Soc- 
rates: ytt he never said that he knew or taught anything. 


c o o Who amongst you makes this his aim? V/ere it indeed 
so, you would gladly endure sickness, hunger, aye, death 


How are we constituted by Nature? To be free, to be 
noble, to be modest (for what other living thing is capable 
of blushing, or of feeling the impression of shame?) and to 
subordinate pleasure to the ends for which Nature designed 
us, as a handm.aid and a minister, in order to call forth our 
activity; in order to keep us constant to the path prescribed 
by Nature, 


The husbandman deals with land; physicians and trainers 
with the body ; the wise man with his own Mind. 


Which of us does not admire what Lycurgus the Spartan 
did? A young citizen had put out his eye, and been handed 
over to him by the people to be punished at his own dis- 
cretion. Lycurgus abstained from all vengeance, but on 
the contrary instructed and made a good man of him. Pro- 
ducing him in public in the theatre, he said to the astonished 
Spartans : — " I received this young man at your hands full 
of violence and wanton insolence ; I restore him to you in 
his right mind and fit to serve his country." 


A money-changer may not reject Caesar's coin, nor may 
the seller of herbs, but must when once the coin is shown, 
deliver what is sold for it, v/hether he v/ill or nOo So is 
it also with the Soul. Once the Good appears, it attracts 
towards itself; evil repels. But a clear and certain impres- 
sion of the Good the Soul will never reject, any more than 
men do Caesar's coin. On this hangs every impulse alike of 
Man and God. 


Asked what Common Sense was, Epictetus replied :^ — 
As that may be called a Common Ear which distinguishes 
only sounds, while that which distinguishes musical notes 


is not common but produced by training; so there are certain 
things which men not entirely perverted see by the natural 
principles common to all. Such a constitution of the Mind 
is called Common Sense. 


Canst thou judge men? . . . then make us imitators of 
thyself, as Socrates did. Do this, do not do that, else zvill I 
cast thee into prison; this is not governing men like reason- 
able creatures. Say rather, As God hath ordained, so do; 
else thou wilt suifer chastisement and loss, xA.skest thou 
what loss? None other than this: To have left undone 
what thou shouldst have done: to have lost the faithfulness, 
the reverence, the modesty that is in thee ! Greater loss 
than this seek not to find ! 


" His son is dead." 

What has happened? 

" His son is dead/' 

Nothing more? 

" Nothing." 

" His ship is lost." 

What has happened? 

" His ship is lost." 

" He has been haled to prison/* 

What has happened? 

" He has been haled to prison." 

But that any of these things are misfortunes to him, Is 
an addition which every one m.akes of his own. But (you 
say) God is unjust in this. — ^Why? For having given thee 
endurance and greatness of soul? For having made such 
things to be no evils? For placing happiness within thy 
reach, even when enduring them? For opening unto thee 
a door, when things make not for thy good? — Depart, my 
friend, and find fault no more 1 


You are sailing to Rome (you tell me) to obtain the post 
of Governor of Cnossus." You are not content to stay at 
home with the honours you had before ; you want something 

^ In Cret^o 


on a larger scale, and more conspicuous. But when did you 
ever undertake a voyage for the purpose of reviewing your 
own principles and getting rid of any of them that proved 
unsound? Whom did you ever visit for that object? What 
time did you ever set yourself for that? What age? Run 
over the times of your life — ^by yourself, if you are ashamed 
before me. Did you examine your principles w^hen a boy? 
Did you not do everything just as you do nov/? Or when 
you were a stripling, attending the school of oratory and 
practising the art yourself, what did you ever imagine you 
lacked? And when you were a young man, entered upon 
public life, and were pleading causes and making a nam.e, 
.who any longer seemed equal to you ? And at what momicnt 
would you have endured another examining your principles 
and proving that they were unsound? What then am I to 
say to you ? " Help me in this matter ! " you cry. Ah, for 
that I have no rule ! And neither did you, if that was your 
object, come to me as a philosopher, but as you might have 
gone to a herb-seller or a cobbler. — " What do philosophers 
have rules for, then ? " — Why, that whatever may betide, our 
ruling faculty may be as Nature would have it, and so 
remain. Think you this a small matter? Not so! but the 
greatest thing there is. Well, does it need but a short time ? 
Can it be grasped by a passer-by ? — grasp it, if you can ! 
Then you will say, " Yes, I met Epictetus ! " 
Ay, just as you might a statue or a monument. You saw 
me ! and that is all. But a man who meets a man is one who 
learns the other's mind, and lets him see his in turn. Learn 
my mind — show me yours; and then go and say that you 
met me. Let us try each other; if I have any wrong prin- 
ciple, rid me of it; if you have, out v/ith it. That is what 
meeting a philosopher means. Not so, you think; this is 
only a flying visit; while we are hiring the ship, we can 
see Epictetus too ! Let us see what he has to say. Then on 
leaving you cry, " Out on Epictetus for a worthless fellow, 
provincial and barbarous of speech ! " What else indeed did 
you come to judge of? 


"Whether you will or no, you are poorer than I ! 
*• What then do I tack?/* 


What you have not: Constancy of mind, such as Nature 
would have it to be : Tranquillity. Patron or no patron, what 
care I? but you do care. I am richer than you: I am not 
racked with anxiety as to what Csesar may think of me; I 
flatter none on that account. This is what I have, instead 
of vessels of gold and silver ! your vessels may be of gold, 
but your reason, your principles, your accepted views, your 
inclinations, your desires are of earthenware. 

To you, all you have seems small : to me, all I have seems 
great. Your desire is insatiable, mine is satisfied. See 
children thrusting their hands into a narrow-necked jar, and 
striving to pull out the nuts and figs it contains: if they 
fill the hand, they cannot pull it out again, and then th-y 
fall to tears. — "Let go a few of them, and then you cun 
draw out the rest!" — You, too, let your desire go! covet 
not many things, and you will obtain. 

Pittacus,^ wronged by one whom he had it in his power 
to punish, let him go free, saying. Forgiveness is better than 
revenge. The one shows native gentleness, the other 


" My brother ought not to have treated me thus." 

True : but he must see to that. However he may treat me, 

I must deal rightly by him. This is what lies with me, ;what 

none can hinder. 


Nevertheless a man should also be prepared to be sufficient 
unto himself — to dwell with himself alone, even as God 
dwells with Himself alone, shares His repose with none, 
and considers the nature of His own administration, intent 
upon such thoughts as are meet unto Himself. So should 
we also be able to converse with ourselves, to need none 
else beside, to sigh for no distraction, to bend our thoughts 
upon the Divine Administration, and how we stand related 

12 One of the Seven Wise Men of Greece. He ruled Mytilene m. Lesbos 
in the seventh century B. c. 


to all else; to observe how human accidents touched us of 
old, and how they touch us now; ;what things they are that 
still have power to hurt us, and how they may be cured or 
removed ; to perfect what needs perfecting as Reason would 


If a man has frequent intercourse with others, either in 
the way of conversation, entertainment, or simple familiarity, 
he must either become like them, or change them to his own 
fashion. A live coal placed next a dead one will either 
kindle that or be quenched by it. Such being the risk, it is 
well to be cautious in admitting intimacies of this sort, re- 
membering that one cannot rub shoulders with a soot-stained 
man without sharing the soot oneself. What will you do, 
supposing the talk turns on gladiators, or horses or prize- 
fighters, or (what is worse) on persons j condemning this and 
that, approving the other? Or suppose a sneers or jeers 
or shows a malignant temper? Has any among us the skill 
of the lute-player, v/ho knows at the first touch which strings 
are out of tune and sets the instrument right: has any of 
you such a power as Socrates had, in all his intercourse with 
men, of winning them over to his own convictions? Nay, 
but you must needs be swayed hither and thither by the un- 
instructed. How comes it then that they prove so much 
stronger than you? Because they speak from the fulness 
of the heart — their low, corrupt views are their real con- 
victions : whereas your fine sentiments are but from the lips, 
outwards; that is iwhy they are so nerveless and dead. It 
turns one's stomach to listen to your exhortations, and hear 
of your miserable Virtue, that you prate of up and down. 
Thus it is that the Vulgar prove too strong for you. Every- 
where strength, everywhere victory waits your conviction! 


In general, any methods of discipline applied to the body 
which tend to modify its desires or repulsions, are good — 
for ascetic ends. But if done for display, they betray at once 
a man who keeps an eye on outward show; who has an 
ulterior purpose, and is looking for spectators to shout, " Oh 
what a great man ! " This is why ApoUonius so well said : 


"If you are bent upon a little private discipline, wait till 
you are choking with heat some day — then take a mouthful 
of cold water, and spit it out again, and tell no man ! " 


Study how to give as one that is sick: that thou mayest 
hereafter give as one that is whole. Fast ; drink water only ; 
abstain altogether from desire, that thou mayest hereafter 
conform thy desire to Reason. 


Thou wouldst do good unto men ? then show them by thine 
own example what kind of men philosophy can make, and 
cease from foolish trifling. Eating, do good to them that 
eat with thee; drinking, to them that drink with thee; 
yield unto all, give way, and bear with them. Thus shalt 
thou do them good: but vent not upon them thine own evil 
humour ! 


Even as bad actors cannot sing alone, but only in chorus : 
so some cannot walk alone, 

Man, if thou art aught, strive to walk alone and hold 
converse with thyself, instead of skulking in the chorus ! at 
length think; look around thee; bestir thyself, that thou 
mayest know who thou art ! 


You would fain be victor at the Olympic games, you say. 
Yes, but weigh the conditions, weigh the consequences ; then 
and then only, lay to your hand— if it be for your profit. 
You must live by rule, submit to diet, abstain from dainty 
meats, exercise your body perforce at stated hours, in heat 
or in cold; drink no cold water, nor, it may be, wine. In 
a word, you must surrender yourself wholly to your trainer, 
as though to a physician. 

Then in the hour of contest, you will have to delve the 
ground, it may chance dislocate an arm, strain an ankle, 
gulp down abundance of yellow sand, be scourged with the 
whip — and with all this somictimes lose the victory. Count 
the cost — and then, if your desire still holds, try the wrest- 
ler's life. Else let me tell you that you will be behaving like 


a pack of children playing now at wrestlers, now at gladia- 
tors; presently falling to trumpeting and anon to stage-play- 
ing, when the fancy takes them for what they have seen. 
And you are even the same : wrestler, gladiator, philosopher, 
orator all by turns and none of them with your whole soul. 
Like an ape, you mimic what you see, to one thing constant 
never; the thing that is familiar charms no more. This is 
because you never undertook aught with due consideration, 
nor after strictly testing and viewing it from every side ; no, 
your choice vv^as thoughtless; the glow of your desire had 
waxed cold. . . . 

Friend, bethink you first what it is that you would do, and 
then what your own nature is able to bear. Would you be 
a wrestler, consider your shoulders, your thighs, your loins — 
not all men are formed to the same end. Think you to be 
a philosopher while acting as you do? think you to go on 
thus eating, thus drinking, giving way in like manner to 
wrath and to displeasure? Nay, you must watch, you must 
labour ; overcome certain desires ; quit your familiar friends, 
submit to be despised by your slave, to be held in derision 
by them that meet you, to take the lower place in all things, 
in office, in positions of authority, in courts of law. 

Weigh these things fully, and then, if you will, lay to your 
hand; if as the price of these things you would gain Free- 
dom, Tranquillity, and passionless Serenity. 


He that hath no musical instruction is a child in Music; 
he that hath no letters is a child in Learning; he that is 
untaught is a child in Life. 


Can any profit be derived from these men ? Aye, from all. 

" What, even from a reviler ? " 

Why, tell me what profit a wrestler gains from him who 
exercises him beforehand ? The very greatest : he trains me 
in the practice of endurance, of controlling my temper, of 
gentle ways. You deny it. What, the man who lays hold 
of my neck, and disciplines loins and shoulders does me good, 
. . . while he that trains me to keep my temper does me 
none? This is what it means, not knowing how to gain 


advantage from men! Is my neighbour bad? Bad to him- 
self, but good to me: he brings my good temper, my gentle- 
ness into play. Is my father bad? Bad to himself, but good 
to m.e. This is the rod of Hermes ; touch what you will with if, 
they say, and it becomes gold. Nay, but bring what you will 
and I will transm^ute it into Good. Bring sickness, bring death, 
bring poverty and reproach, bring trial for life — all these 
things through the rod of Hermes shall be turned to profit. 


Till then these sound opinions have taken firm root in you, 
and you have gained a measure of strength for your security, 
I counsel you to be cautious in associating with the unin- 
structed. Else whatever impressions you receive upon the 
tablets of your mind in the School will day by day melt and 
disappear, like wax in the sun. Withdraw then somewhere 
far from the sun, while you have these waxen sentiments. 


We must approach this matter in a different way; it is 
great and mystical : it is no common thing ; nor given to every 
man. Wisdom alone, it may be, will not suffice for the care 
of youth : a man needs also a certain measure of readiness — 
an aptitude for the office; aye, and certain bodily qualities; 
and above all, to be counselled of God Himself to undertake 
this post; even as He counselled Socrates to fill the post of 
one who confutes error, assigning to Diogenes^* the royal 
office of high reproof, and to Zeno^* that of positive instruc- 
tion. Whereas you would fain set up for a physician pro- 
vided with nothing but drugs ! Where and how they should 
be applied you neither know nor care. 


If what charms you is nothing but abstract principles, sit 
down and turn them over quietly in your mind: but never 
dub yourself a Philosopher, nor suffer others to call you so. 
Say rather : He is in error ; for my desires, my impulses are 
unaltered. I give in my adhesion to what I did before; nor 
has my mode of dealing with the things of sense undergone 
any change. 

^^ The well-known Cynic philosopher. 
"Founder of the Stoic school of philosophy. 



When a friend inclined to Cynic views asked Epictetus, 
what sort of person a true Cynic should be, requesting a 
general sketch of the system, he answered : — " We will con- 
sider that at leisure. At present I content myself with say- 
ing this much : If a man put his hand to so weighty a matter 
without God, the wrath of God abides upon him. That 
which he covets will but bring upon him public shame. Not 
even on finding himself in a well-ordered house does a man 
step forward and say to himself, I must be master here ! 
Else the lord of that house takes notice of -it, and seeing him 
insolently giving orders drags him forth and chastises him. 
So it is also in this great City, the World. Here also is there 
a Lord of the House, who orders all things : — 

" Thou art the Sun ! in thhie orbit thou hast poiuer to make the year 
and the seasons; to bid the fruits of the earth grow and increase^ 
the winds arise and fall; thou canst in due measure cherish with 
thy zvarnith the frames of m.en; go ?nake thy circuit, and thus min- 
ister unto all from the greatest to the least! . . . 

" Thou canst lead a host against Troy; be Aga7nemnon! 

''''Thou canst meet Hector in single combat; be Achilles! 

" But had Thersites stepped forward and claimed the chief 
command, he had been met with a refusal, or obtained it only 
to his own shame and confusion of face, before a cloud of 


Others may fence themselves with walls and houses, when 
they do such deeds as these, and wrap themselves in dark- 
ness — aye, they have many a device to hide themselves. An- 
other may shut his door and station one before his chamber 
to say, if any comes, He has gone forth I he is not at leisure f 
But the true Cynic will have none of these things; instead 
of them, he must wrap himself in Modesty: else he will but 
bring himself to shame, naked and under the open sky. That 
is his house; that is his door; that is the slave that guards 
his chamber ; that is his darkness ! 


Death? let it come when it will, whether it smite but a 
part or the whole : Fly, you tell me — fly ! But whither shall 


I fly ? Can any man cast me beyond the limits of the World ? 
It may not be ! And w^hithersoever I go, there shall I still 
find Sun, Moon, and Stars; there shall I find dreams, and 
omens, and converse with the Gods ! 


Furthermore the true Cynic must know that he is sent as 
a Messenger from God to men, to show unto them that as 
touching good and evil they are in error; looking for these 
where they are not to be found, nor ever bethinking them- 
selves where they are. And like Diogenes when brought be- 
fore Philip after the battle of Chseronea, the Cynic must 
remember that he is a Spy. For a Spy he really is — to bring 
back word vv'hat things are on Man's side, and what against 
him. And when he has diligently observed all, he must come 
back with a true report, not terrified into announcing them 
to be foes that are no foes, nor otherwise perturbed or con- 
founded by the things of sense. 

How can it be that one who hath nothing, neither raiment, 
nor house, nor home, nor bodily tendance, nor servant, nor 
city, should yet live tranquil and contented? Behold God 
hath sent you a man to show you in act and deed that it 
may be so. Behold me ! I have neither city nor house nor 
possessions nor servants: the ground is my couch; I have 
no wife, no children, no shelter — nothing but earth and sky, 
and one poor cloak. And what lack I yet? am I not un- 
touched by sorrow, by fear ? am I not free ? . . . v/hen have 
I laid anything to the charge of God or Man? when have I 
accused any? hath any of you seen me with a sorrowful 
countenance ? And in what wise treat I those of whom you 
stand in fear and awe ? Is it not as slaves ? Who when he 
seeth me doth not think that he beholdeth his Master and 
his King? 


Give thyself more 'diligently to refiection: know thyself: 
take counsel with the Godhead : v/ithout God put thine hand 
unto nothing! 



" But to marry and to rear offspring," said tHe young man, 
" will the Cynic hold himself bound to undertake this as a 
chief duty ? " 

Grant me a republic of wise men, answered Epictetus, and 
perhaps none will lightly take the Cynic life upon him. For 
on whose account should he embrace that method of life? 
Suppose however that he does, there will then be nothing 
to hinder his marrying and rearing offspring. For his wife 
will be even such another as himself, and likewise her father ; 
and in like manner will his children be brought up. 

But in the present condition of things, which resembles an 
Army in battle array, ought not the Cynic to be free from 
all distraction and given wholly to the service of God, so 
that he can go in and out among men, neither fettered by 
the duties nor entangled by the relations of common life? 
For if he transgress them, he will forfeit the character of a 
good man and true; whereas if he observe them, there is 
an end of him as the Messenger, the Spy, the Herald of the 


Ask me if you choose if a Cynic shall engage in the ad- 
ministration of the State. O fool, seek you a nobler adminis- 
tration than that in which he is engaged ? Ask you if a man 
shall come forward in the Athenian assembly and talk about 
revenue and supplies, when his business is to converse with 
all men, Athenians, Corinthians, and Romans alike, not about 
supplies, not about revenue, nor yet peace and war, but about 
Happiness and Misery, Prosperity and Adversity, Slavery 
and Freedom? 

Ask you whether a man shall engage in the administration 
of the State who has engaged in such an Administration as 
this? Ask me too if he shall govern; and again I will an- 
swer, Fool, what greater government shall he hold than that 
he holds already? 


Such a man needs also to have a certain habit of body, 
if he appear consumptive, thin and pale, his testimony has 
no longer the same authority. He must not only prove to 


the unlearned by showing them what his Soul is that it is 
possible to be a good man apart from all that they admire; 
but he must also show them, by his body, that a plain and 
simple manner of life under the open sky does no harm to 
the body either. " See, I am a proof of this ! and my body 
also." As Diogenes used to do, who went about fresh of 
look and by the very appearance of his body drew men's eyes. 
But if a Cynic is an object of pity, he seem^s a mere beggar; 
all turn away, all are offended at him. Nor should he be 
slovenly of look, so as not to scare men from him in this 
way either; on the contrary, his very roughness should be 
clean and attractive. 


Kings and tyrants have armed guards wherewith to chas- 
tise certain persons, though they be themselves evil. But to 
the Cynic conscience gives this power — not arms and guards. 
When he knows that he has watched and laboured on behalf 
of mankind: that sleep hath found him pure, and left him 
purer still: that his thoughts have been the thought of a 
Friend of the Gods — of a servant, yet of one that hath a part 
in the government of the Supreme God: that the words are 
ever on his lips : — 

Lead me^ God, and thou, Destiny! 
as well as these : — 

If this be God^s will, so let it be! 
Why should he not speak boldly unto his own brethren, unto 
his children — in a word, unto all that are akin to him ! 


Does a Philosopher apply to people to come and hear him ? 
does he not rather, of his ovvm nature, attract those that will 
be benefited by him — like the sun that warms, the food that 
sustains them ? W^hat Physician applies to men to come and 
be healed? (Though indeed I hear that the Physicians at 
Rome do novvadays apply for patients — in my time they were 
applied to). I apply to you to come and hear that you are 
in evil case; that what deserves your attention most is the 
last thing to gain it ; that you know not good from evil, and 
are in short a hapless wretch ; a fine way to apply ! though 

6 HC— Vol. 2 


unless the words of the Philosopher affect you thus, speaker 
and speech are alike dead. 


A Philosopher's school is a Surgery: pain, not pleasure, 
you should have felt therein. For on entering none of you 
is whole. One has a shoulder out of joint, another an ab- 
scess : a third suffers from an issue, a fourth from pains in 
the head. And am I then to sit dov/n and treat you to pretty 
sentiments and empty flourishes, so that you may applaud me 
and depart, with neither shoulder, nor head, nor issue, nor 
abscess a v/hit the better for your visit? Is it then for this 
that young men are to quit their homes, and leave parents, 
friends, kinsmen and substance to mouth out Bravo to your 
empty phrases ! 


If any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy 
by reason of himself alone. For God hath made all men to 
enjoy felicity and constancy of good. 


Shall we never wean ourselves — shall we never heed the 
teachings of Philosophy (unless perchance they have been 
sounding in our ears like an enchanter's drone) : — - 

This World is one great City, and one is the substance 
whereof it is fashioned : a certain period indeed there needs 
must be, while these give place to those; some must perish 
for others to succeed ; some move and some abide : yet all is 
full of friends — first God, then Men, whom Nature hath 
bound by ties of kindred each to each. 


Nor did the hero^^ weep and lam.ent at leaving his children 
orphans. For he knew that no man is an orphan, but it is 
the Father that careth for all continually and for evermore. 
Not by mere report had he heard that the Supreme God is 
the Father of men: seeing that he called Him Father be- 
lieving Him so to be, and in all that he did had ever his 
eyes fixed upon Him. Wherefore in whatsoever place he 
was, there it was given him to live happily. 

1^ Hercules. 


Know you not that the thing is a warfare ? one man's duty 
is to mount guard, another m^ust go out to reconnoitre, a 
third to battle ; all cannot be in one place, nor would it even 
be expedient. But you, instead of executing your Comman- 
der's orders, complain if aught harsher than usual is en- 
joined; not understanding to what condition you are bringing 
the army; so far as in j^ou lies. If all were to follow your 
example, none would dig a trench, none v/ould cast a ram- 
part around the camp, none would keep watch, or expose 
himself to danger ; but all turn out useless for the service of 
war. . . . Thus it is here also. Every life is a warfare, and 
that long and various. You must fulfil a soldier's duty, and 
obey each order at your commander's nod : aye, if it be pos- 
sible, divine what he would have done; for between that 
Commander and thisj there is no comparison, either in might 
or in excellence. 


Have you again forgotten? Know you not that a good 
man does nothing for appearance' sake, but for the sake of 
having done right? . . . 

" Is there no reward then? " 

RevN^ard ! do you seek any greater reward for a good man 
than doing what is right and just? Yet at the Great Games 
you look for nothing else ; there the victor's crown you deem 
enough. Seems it to you so small a thing and worthless, to 
be a good man, and happy therein ? 


It befits thee not to be unhappy by reason of any, but rather 
to be happy by reason of all men, and especially by reason of 
God, who formed us to this end. 


What, did Dio'genes love no man, he that was so gentle, 'so 
true a friend to men as cheerfully to endure such bodily hard- 
ships for the common weal of all mankind? But how loved 
he them? As behoved a minister of the Supreme God, alike 
^ring for men and subject unto God. 



I am by Nature made for my own good; not for my own 


Remind thyself that he whom thou lovest is mortal — that 
what thou lovest is not thine own; it is given thee for the 
present, not irrevocably nor for ever, but even as a fig or a 
bunch of grapes at the appointed season of the year. . . . 

" But these are words of evil omen." . . . 

What, callest thou aught of evil omen save that which 
signifies some evil thing? Cowardice is a word of evil omen, 
if thou wilt, and meanness of spirit, and lamentation and 
mournine and shamelessness. . . . 

But do not, I pray thee, call of evil omen a word that is 
significant of any natural thing: — as well call of evil omen 
the reaping of the corn; for it means the destruction of the 
ears, though not of the World ! — as well say that the fall 
of the leaf is of evil omen ; that the dried fig should take the 
place of the green ; that raisins should be made from grapes. 
All these are changes from a former state into another; not 
destruction, but an ordered economy, a fixed administration. 
Such is leaving home, a change of small account; such is 
Death, a greater change, from what now is, not to what is 
not, but to what is not now. 

" Shall I then no longer be ? " 

Not so; thou wilt be; but something different, of which 
the World now hath need. For thou too v/ert born not when 
thou chosest, but when the World had need of thee. 


Wherefore a good man and true, bearing in mind who he 
is and whence he came and from whom he sprang, cares only 
how he may fill his post with due disciphne and obedience 
to God. 

Wilt thou that I continue to live ? Then will I live, as one 
that is free and noble, as Thou wouldst have me. For Thou 
hast made me free from hindrance in what appertaineth unto 
m.e. But hast Thou no further need of me ? I thank Thee ! 
Up to this hour have I stayed for Thy sake and none other's : 
and mow in obedience to Thee I depart. 


"How dost thou depart?" 

Again I say, as Thou wouldst have me ; as one that is free, 
as Thy servant, as one whose ear is open unto what Thou 
dost enjoin, what Thou dost forbid. 


Whatsoever place or post Thou assignest me, sooner will 
I die a thousand deaths, as Socrates said, than desert it. 
And where wilt Thou have me to be ? At Rome or Athens ? 
At Thebes or on a desert island ? Only remember me there ! 
Shouldst Thou send me where man cannot live as Nature 
would have him, I will depart, not in disobedience to Thee, 
but as though Thou wert sounding the signal for my retreat: 
I am not deserting Thee — far be that from me ! I only per-i 
ceive that thou needest me no longer. 


If you are in Gyaros, do not let your mind dwell upon life 
at Rome, and all the pleasures it offered to you when living 
there, and all that would attend your return. Rather be in- 
tent on this — how he that lives in Gyaros may live in Gyaros 
like a man of spirit. And if you are at Rome, do not let 
your mind dwell upon the life at Athens, but study only how 
to live at Rome. 

Finally, in the room of all other pleasures put this — the 
pleasure which springs from conscious obedience to God. 


To a good man there is no evil, either in life or death. 
And if God supply not food, has He not, as a wise Comman- 
der, sounded the signal for retreat and nothing more? I 
obey, I follow — speaking good of my Commander, and prais- 
ing His acts. For at His good pleasure I came ; and I depart 
when it pleases Him ; and while I was yet alive that was my 
work, to sing praises unto God ! 

Reflect that the chief source of all evils to Man, and 
of baseness and cowardice, is not death, but the fear o| 


Against this fear then, I pray you_, harden yourself; 
to this let all your reasonings, your exercises, your read- 
ing tend. Then shall you know that thus alone are men set 


He is free who lives as he wishes to live; to whom none 
can do violence, none hinder or compel; whose impulses are 
unimpeded, whose desires attain their purpose, who falls not 
into what he would avoid. Who then v/ould live in error ? — 
None. Who would live deceived and prone to fall, unjust, 
intemperate, in abject whining at his lot? — None. Then 
doth no wicked man live as he would, and therefore neither 
is he free. 


Thus do the more cautious of travellers act. The road is 
said to be beset by robbers. The traveller will not venture 
alone, but awaits the companionship on the road of an am- 
bassador, a qusestor or a proconsul. To him he attaches him- 
self and thus passes by in safety. So doth the wise men in 
the world. Many are the companies of robbers and tyrants, 
many the storms, the straits, the losses of all a man holds 
dearest. Whither shall he fly for refuge — how shall he pass 
by unassailed? What companion on the road shall he await 
for protection? Such and such a wealthy m^an, of consular 
rank? And how shall I be profited, if he is stripped and 
falls to lamentation and weeping? And how if my fellow- 
traveller himself turns upon me and robs me? What am I 
to do ? I will become a friend of Caesar's ! in his train none 
will do me wrong! In the first place — O the indignities I 
must endure to win distinction. O the multitude of hands 
there will be to rob me ! And if I succeed, Gsesar too is but 
a miortal. While should it come to pass that I offend him, 
v/hither shall I flee from his presence? To the wilderness? 
And may not fever await me there? What then is to be 
done ? Cannot a fellow-traveller be found that is honest and 
loyal, strong and secure against surprise? Thus doth the 
wise man reason, considering that if he would pass through 
in safety, he must attach himself unto God. 



"How understandest thou attach himself to God"f 

That what God wills, he should will also; that what God 
wills not, neither should he will. 

" How then may this come to pass ? " 

By considering the movements of God, and His adminis- 


And dost thou that hast received all from another's hands, 
repine and blame the Giver, if He takes anything from thee ? 
Why, who art thou, and to what end comest thou here ? v/as 
it not He that brought thee into the world; v/as it not He 
that made the Light m.anifest unto thee, that gave thee fellow- 
workers, and senses, and the power to reason? And how 
brought He thee into the world? Was it not as one born 
to die ; as one bound to live out his earthly life in some small 
tabernacle of flesh; to behold His administration, and for a 
little while to share with Him in the mighty march of this 
great Festival Procession? Now therefore that thou hast 
beheld, while it was permitted thee, the Solemn Feast and 
Assembly, wilt thou not cheerfully depart, when He sum- 
mons thee forth, with adoration arid thanksgiving for v^hat 
thou hast seen and heard ? — *' Nay, but I v/ould fain have 
stayed longer at the Festival." — ^Ah, so would the mystics 
fain have the rites prolonged ; so perchance would the crowd 
at the Great Games fain behold more wrestlers still. But the 
Solemn Assembly is over ! Come forth, depart with thanks- 
giving and modesty — give place to others that must come into 
being even as thyself. 


Why art thou thus insatiable? why thus unreasonable? 
why encumber the world? — "Aye, but I fain would have 
my wife and children with me too."— What, are tl'^ey then 
thine, and not His that gave them— His that m^ade thee? 
Give up then that which is not thine own: yield it to One 
v>^ho is better than thou. " Nay, but why did He bring one 
into the world on these conditions ? "—If it suits thee not, 
depart 1 He hath no need of a spectator who finds fault with 
his lot! Them that will take part in the Feast he needeth— 


that will lift their voices with the rest, that men may applaud 
the more, and exalt the Great Assembly in hymns and songs 
of praise. But the wretched and the fearfiil He will not be 
displeased to see absent from it : for when they were present, 
thy did not behave as at a Feast, nor fulfil their proper office ; 
but moaned as though in pain, and found fault with their 
fate, their fortune and their companions; insensible to what 
had fallen to their lot, insensible to the powers they had re- 
ceived for a very different purpose — the powers of Magna- 
nimity, Nobility of Heart, of Fortitude, of Freedom! 


Art thou then free? a man may say. So help me heaven, 
I long and pray for freedom ! But I cannot look my masters 
boldly in the face; I still value the poor body; I still set 
much store on its preservation whole and sound. 

But I can point thee out a free man, that thou mayest 
be no more in search of an example. Diogenes was free. 
How so? Not because he was of free parentage (for that, 
indeed, was not the case), but because he was himself free. 
He had cast away every handle whereby slavery might lay 
hold upon him, nor was it possible for any to approach and 
take holu of him to enslave him. All things sat loose upon 
him — all things were to him attached by but slender ties. 
Hadst thou seized upon his possessions, he would rather 
have let them go than have followed thee for them — aye, 
had it been even a limb, or mayhap his whole body; and 
in like manner, relatives, friends, and country. For he 
knew whence they came — from whose hands and on what 
terms he had received them. His true forefathers, the Gods, 
his true Country, he never would have abandoned; nor 
would he have yielded to any man in obedience and submis- 
sion to the one nor in cheerfully dying for the other. For 
he was ever mindful that everything that comes to pass has 
its source and origin there; being indeed brought about for 
the weal of that his true Country, and directed by Him in 
whose governance it is. 


Ponder on this— on these convictions, on these words: fix 
thine eyes on these examples, if thou wouldst be free, if thou 


hast thine heart set upon the matter according to its worth. 
And what marvel if thou purchase so great a thing at so 
great and high a price ? For the sake of this that men deem 
liberty, some hang themselves, others cast themselves down 
from the rock; aye, time has been when whole cities came 
utterly to an end: while for the sake of the Freedom that is 
true, and sure, and unassailable, dost thou grudge to God 
what He gave, when He claims it? Wilt thou not study, as 
Plato saith, to endure, not death alone, but torture, exile, 
stripes — in a word, to render up all that is not thine own? 
Else thou wilt be a slave amiid slaves, wert thou ten thousand 
times a consul; aye, not a whit the less, though thou climb 
the Palace steps. And thou shalt know how true is the 
saying of Cleanthes, that though the words of philosophy 
may run counter to the opinions of the v/orld, yet have they 
reason on their side. 


Asked how a man should best grieve his enemy, Epictetus 
replied, " By setting himself to live the noblest life himself." 


I am free, I am a friend of God, ready to render Him will- 
ing obedience. Of all else I may set store by nothing — 
neither by mine own body, nor possessions, nor office, nor 
good report, nor in a word, aught else beside. For it is not 
His Will, that I should so set store by these things. Had 
it been His pleasure. He v/ould have placed my Good therein. 
But now He hath not done so : therefore I cannot transgress 
one jot of His commands. In everything hold fast to that 
which is thy Good — but to all else (as far as is given thee) 
within the measure of Reason only, contented with this alone. 
Else thou wilt meet with failure, ill success, let and hindrance. 
These are the Lav/s ordained of God — these are His Edicts; 
these a man should expound and interpret; to these submit 
himself, not to the laws of Masurius and Cassius.^® 


Remember that not the love of power and v/ealth sets us 
under the heel of others, but even the love of tranquillity, 

" Famous Roman jurists. 


of leisure, of change of scene — of learning in general, it 
matters not what the outward thing may be — to set store by 
it is to place thyself in subjection to another. Where is the 
difference then between desiring to be a Senator, and desir- 
ing not to be one: between thirsting for ofSce and thirsting 
to be quit of it? Where is the difference between crying 
Woe is me, I knozv not what to do, bound hand and foot as 
I am to my books so that I cannot stir! and crying. Woe is 
me, I have not time to read! As though a book were not as 
much an outward thing and independent of the will, as 
office and power and the receptions of the great. 

Or what reason hast thou (tell me) for desiring to read? 
For if thou aim at nothing beyond the mere delight of it, 
or gaining some scrap of knowledge, thou art but a poor, 
spiritless knave. But if thou desirest to study to its proper 
end, what else is this than a life that flows on tranquil 
and serene? And if thy reading secures thee not serenity, 
what profits it ? — " Nay, but it doth secure it," quoth he, " and 
that is why I repine at being deprived of it." — And what 
serenity is this that lies at the mercy of every passer-by? 
I say not at the mercy of the Emperor or Emperor's favour- 
ite, but such as trembles at a raven's croak and piper's din, 
a fever's touch or a thousand things of like sort! Whereas 
the life serene has no more certain mark than this, that it 
ever moves with constant unimpeded flow. 


If thou hast put malice and evil speaking from thee, alto- 
gether, or in some degree: if thou hast put away from thee 
rashness, foulness of tongue, intemperance, sluggishness: if 
thou art not moved by v/hat once moved thee, or in like 
manner as thou once wert moved — then thou mayst celebrate 
a daily festival, to-day because thou hast done well in this 
matter, to-morrow in that. How much greater cause is here 
for offering sacrifice, than if a man should become Consul 
or Prefect? 


These things hast thou from thyself and from the Gods: 
only remember who it is that giveth them-— to whom and for 
what purpose they were given. Feeding thy soul on thoughts 


like these, dost thou debate in what place happiness awaits 
thee? in vv'hat place thou shalt do God's pleasure? Are not 
the Gods nigh unto all places alike; see they not alike what 
everywhere comes to pass? 


To each man God hath granted this inward freedom. 
These are the principles that in a house create love, 'in a 
city concord, among nations peace, teaching a man gratitude 
towards .God and cheerful confidence, v/herever he may be, 
in dealing with outward things that he knows are neither 
his nor worth striving after. 


If you seek Truth, you will not seek to gain a victory by 
every possible micans; and when you have found Truth, 
you need not fear being defeated. 


What foolish talk is this? how can I any longer lay 
claim to right principles, if I am not content with being 
what I am, but am all aflutter about what I ami supposed 
to be? 


God hath made all things in the world, nay, the world it- 
self, free from hindrance and perfect, and its parts for the 
use of the whole. No other creature is capable of compre- 
hending His administration thereof; but the reasonable be- 
ing Man possesses faculties for the consideration of all these 
things — not only that he is himself a part, but what part 
he is, and how it is meet that the parts should give place to 
the whole. Nor is this all. Being naturally constituted 
noble, magnanimous, and free, he sees that the things which 
surround him are of tvv^o kinds. Some are free from hin- 
drance and in the pov^^er of the will. Others are subject to 
hindrance, and depend on the will of other men. If then he 
place his ov/n good, his own best interest, only in that v/hich 
is free from hindrance and in his power, he will be free, 
tranquil, happ}^ unharmed, noble-hearted and pious; giving 
thanks for all things unto God, findinp- fault with nothing 
that comes to pass, laying no charge against anything. 


Whereas if he place his good in outward things, depending 
not on the will, he must perforce be subject to hindrance 
and restraint, the slave of those that have power over the 
things he desires and fears ; he must perforce be impious, as 
deeming himself injured at the hands of God; he must be 
unjust, as ever prone to claim more than his due; he must 
perforce be of a mean and abject spirit. 


Whom then shall I yet fear? the lords of the Bed-chamber, 
lest they should shut me out? If they find me desirous of 
entering in, let them shut me out, if they will. 

" Then why comest thou to the door ? " 

Because I think it meet and right, so long as the Play 
lasts, to take part therein. 

" In what sense art thou then shut out ? " 

Because, unless I am admitted, it is not my will to enter: 
on the contrary, my will is simply that which comes to pass. 
For I esteem what God wills better than what I will. To 
Him will I cleave as His minister and attendant; having the 
same movements, the sam.e desires, in a word the same Will 
as He. There is no such thing as being shut out for me, but 
only for them that would force their way in. 


But what says Socrates? — "One man finds pleasure in 
improving his land, another his horses. My pleasure lies 
in seeing that I myself grow better day by day." 


The dress is suited to the craft; the craftsman takes his 
name from the craft, not from the dress. For this reason 
Euphrates was right in saying, " I long endeavoured to con- 
ceal my following the philosophic life; and this profited me 
much. In the first place, I knew that what I did aright, 
I did not for the sake of lookers-on, but for my own. I ate 
aright — unto myself; I kept the even tenor of my walk, my 
glance composed and serene — all unto myself and unto God. 
Then as I fought alone, I was alone in peril. If I did any- 
thing amiss or shameful, the cause of Philosophy was not 


in me endangered; nor did I v/rong the multitude by trans- 
gressing as a professed philosopher. Wherefore those that 
knew not my purpose marvelled how it came about, that 
;ivhilst all my life and conversation was passed with philos- 
ophers without exception, I was yet none myself. And what 
harm that the philosopher should be known by his acts, in- 
stead of by mere outward signs and symbols ? " 


First study to conceal what thou art; seek wisdom a little 
while unto thyself. Thus grows the fruit; first, the seed 
must be buried in the earth for a little space; there it must 
be hid and slowly grow, it may reach maturity. But 
if it produce the ear before the jointed stalk, it is imperfect 
— a thing from the garden of Adonis." Such a sorry growth 
art thou ; thou hast blossomed too soon : the winter cold will 
wither thee away ! 


First of all, condemn the life thou art now leading: but 
when thou hast condemned it, do not despair of thyself — ^be 
not like them^ of mean spirit, who once they have yielded, 
abandon themselves entirely and as it were allow the torrent 
to sweep them away. No; learn what the wrestling masters 
do. Has the boy fallen ? " Rise," they say, " wrestle again, 
till thy strength come to thee." Even thus should it be with 
thee. For know that there is nothing more tractable than 
the human soul. It needs but to will, and the thing is done ; 
the soul is set upon the right path : as on the contrary it needs 
but to nod over the task, and all is lost. For ruin and re- 
covery alike are from within. 


It is the critical moment that shows the man. So when 
the crisis is upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of 
wrestlers, has matched you with a rough and stalwart antag- 
onist. — " To what end ? " you ask. That you may prove the 
victor at the Great Games. Yet without toil and sweat 
this may not be ! 

1' Potted plants of forced growth carried in the processions in honor of 



I£ thou wouldst make progress, be content to seem foolish/ 
and void of understanding with respect to outward things,' 
Care not to be thought to know anything. If any shoul(j 
make account of thee, distrust thyself. 


Remember that in life thou shouldst order thy conduct as 
at a banquet. Has any dish that is being served reached 
thee? Stretch forth thy hand and help thyself modestly. 
Doth it pass thee by ? Seek not to detain it. Has it not yet 
come? Send not forth thy desire to meet it, but wait until 
it reaches thee. Deal thus with children, thus with wife; 
thus with office, thus with wealth — and one day thou wilt be 
meet to share the Banquets of the Gods. But if thou dost 
not so much as touch that which is placed before thee, but 
despisest it, then shalt thou not only share the Banquets of 
the Gods, but their Empire also. 


Remember that thou art an actor in a play, and of such 
sort as the Author chooses, whether long or short. If it be 
his good pleasure to assign thee the part of a beggar, a 
ruler, or a simple citizen, thine it is to play it fitly. For 
thy business is to act the part assigned thee, well : to choose 
it, is another's. 


Keep death and exile daily before thine eyes, with all else 
that men deem terrible, but more especially Death. Then 
wilt thou never think a mean thought, nor covet anything 
beyond measure. 


As a mark is not set up in order to be missed, so neither 
is such a thing as natural evil produced in the World. 


Piety towards the Goids, be sure^ consists chiefly in think- 
ing rightly concerning them — that tliey are, and that they 
govern the Universe with goodness and justice; and that 


thou thyself art appointed to obey them, and to submit under 
all circum.stances that arise; acquiescing cheerfully in what- 
ever may happen, sure that it is brought to pass and ac- 
complished by the most Perfect Understanding. Thus thou 
"wilt never find fault with the Gods, nor charge them with 
neglecting thee. 


Lose no time in setting before you a certain stamp of 
character and behaviour to observe both when by yourself 
and in company with others. Let silence be your general 
rule; or say only what is necessary and in few words. We 
shall, hov/ever, when occasion demands, enter into discourse 
sparingly, avoiding such common topics as gladiators, horse- 
races, athletes; and the perpetual talk about food and drink. 
Above all avoid speaking of persons, either in the way of 
praise or blame, or comparison. 

If you can, win over the conversation of your company 
to what it should be by your own. But if you should 
find yourself cut off without escape among strangers and 
aliens, be silent. 


Laughter should not be much, nor frequent, nor unre- 


Refuse altogether to take an oath if you can, if not, as 

far as miay be. 


Banquets of the unlearned and of them that are without, 
avoid. But if you have occasion to take part in them, let 
not your attention be relaxed for a moment, lest you slip 
after all into evil ways. For you may rest assured that be a 
man ever so pure himself^ he cannot escape defilement if his 
associates are impure. 


Take what relates to the body as far as the bare use war- 
rants — as, drink, raiment, house and servants. But 
all that makes for show and luxury reject. 



If you are told that such an one speaks ill of you, make/ 
no defence against what was said, but answer, He surely 
knew not my other faults, else he would not have mentioned 
these only ! / 


When you visit any of those in power, bethink yourself 
that you will not find him in : that you may not be admitted : 
that the door may be shut in your face; that he may not 
concern himself about you. If with all this, it is your duty 
to go, bear what happens, and never say to yourself. It was 
not worth the trouble ! For that would smack of the foolish 
and unlearned who suffer outward things to touch them. 


In company avoid frequent and undue talk about your 
own actions and dangers. However pleasant it may be to 
you to enlarge upon the risks you have run, others may not 
find such pleasure in listening to your adventures. Avoid 
provoking laughter also: it is a habit from which one easily 
slides into the v\^ays of the foolish, and apt to diminish the 
respect which your neighbours feel for you. To border on 
coarse talk is also dangerous. On such occasions, if a con- 
venient opportunity offer, rebuke the speaker. If not, at least 
by relapsing into silence, colouring, and looking annoyed, 
show that you are displeased with the subject. 


When you have decided that a thing ought to be done, 
and are doing it, never shun being seen doing it, even though 
the multitude should be likely to judge the matter amiss. 
For if you are not acting rightly, shun the act itself; if 
rightly, however, why fear misplaced censure? 


It stamps a man of mean capacity to spend much time on 
the things of the body, as to be long over bodily exercises, 
long over eating, long over drinking, long over other bodily 
functions. Rather should these things take the second place, 
while all your care is directed to the understanding. 



Everything has two handles, one by which it may be borne, 
the other by which it may not. If your brother sin against 
you lay not hold of it by the handle of his injustice, for 
by that it ma}^ not be borne: but rather by this, that he is 
your brother, the comrade of your youth; and thus you will 
lay hold on it so that it may be borne. 


Never call yourself a Philosopher nor talk much among 
the unlearned about Principles, but do that which follov/s 
from them. Thus at a banquet, do not discuss how people 
ought to eat ; but eat as you ought. Remember that Socrates 
thus entirely avoided ostentation. Men would come to him 
desiring to be recommended to philosophers, and he would 
conduct them thither himself — so well did he bear being 
overlooked. Accordingly if any talk concerning principles 
should arise among the unlearned, be you for the most part 
silent. For you run great risk of spewing up what you have 
ill digested. And when a man tells you that you know noth- 
ing and you are not nettled at it, then you may be sure that 
you have begun the work. 


When you have brought yourself to supply the needs o£ 
the body at small cost, do not pique yourself on that, nor if 
you drink only water, keep saying on each occasion, / drink 
water ! And if you ever want to practise endurance and toil, 
tlo so unto yourself and not unto others — do not em.brace 
statues !^ 


When a man prides himself on being able to understand 
and interpret the writings of Chrysippus,^^ say to yourself : — 

If Chrysippus had not written obscurely, this fellow 
would have had nothing to be proud of. But what is it that 
/ desire ? To understand Nature, and to follow her ! Ac- 
cordingly I ask who is the Interpreter. On hearing that it 
is Chrysippus, I go to him. But it seems I do not understand 
what he wrote. So I seek one to interpret that. So far there 

^ As Diogenes is said to have done in winter. 

^ The so-called " Second Founder " of the Stoics. 


is nothing to pride myself upon. But when I have found 
my interpreter, v/haj remains is to put in practice his in- 
structions. This itself is the only thing to be proud of. 
But if I admire the interpretation and that alone, what else 
have I turned out but a mere commentator instead of a 
lover of wisdom? — except indeed that I happen to be inter- 
preting Chrysippus instead of Homer. So when any one 
says to me, Prithee, read me Chrysippus, I am. more inclined 
to blush, when I cannot show my deeds to be in harmony and 
accordance with his sayings. 


At feasts, remember that you are entertaining two guests, 
body and soul. What you give to the body, you presentW, 
lose; what you give to the soul, you keep for ever. 


At meals see to it that those who serve be not more in 
number than those who are served. It is absurd for a crowd 
of persons to be dancing attendance on half a dozen chairs. 


It is best to share with j^our attendants what is going for- 
ward, both in the labour of preparation and in the enjoyment 
of the feast itself. If such a thing be difficult at the time, 
recollect that you who are not weary are being served by 
those that are, you who are eating and drinking by those 
who do neither ; you who are talking by those who are silent ; 
you who are at ease by those who are under constraint. Thus 
no sudden wrath will betray you into unreasonable conduct^ 
nor will you behave harshly by irritating anothen 


When Xanthippe was chiding Socrates for making scanty 
preparation for entertaining his friends, he answered : — " If 
they are friends of ours, they will not care for that; if they 
are not, we shall care nothing for them ! " 


Asked, Who is the rich man? Epictetus replied, "He who 
is content" 



Favorinus^" tells us how Epictetus would also say that there 
were two faults far graver and fouler than any others — 
inability to bear, and inability to forbear, when we neither 
patiently bear the blows that must be borne, nor abstain 
from the things and the pleasures we ought to abstain from. 
" So," he went on, " if a man will only have these two words 
at heart, and heed them carefully by ruling and watching 
over himself, he wall for the most part fall into no sin, and 
his life will be tranquil and serene." He meant the words 
*Avs^/ou xat oTza'^ou — "Bear and Forbear." 


On all occasions these thoughts should be at hand:— 

Lead me, Gcd, and Thou, O Destiny, "^"^ 
Be what it may the goal appointed me. 
Bravely Fll follow; nay, and if I would noiy 
Pd prove a coward, yet must follow still!'* 

Again : 

Who to Necessity doth bow aright^ 
Is learn' d in wisdom- and the things of God. 
Once more: — 

Crito, if this be God's will, so let it be. As for me, Anytus and 
Melitus can indeed put me to death, but injure me, never I 


We shall then be like Socrates, when we can indite hymns 
of praise to the Gods in prison. 


It is hard to combine and unite these two qualities, the 
carefulness of one who is affected by circmnstances, and the 
intrepidity of one who heeds them not. But it is not impos- 
sible: else were happiness also impossible. We should act 
as we do in sea-faring. 

" What can I do ? " — Choose the master, the crev/, the day, 
the opportunity. Then comes a sudden storm. What mat- 
ters it to me ? my part has been fully done. The matter is in 

^ A Roman orator and sophist. 
»» These verses are by Cleanthes, the sttccessor of Zeno as leader of th6 
Stoics, and author of the Hymn printed in Appendix B. 


ths hands of another — the Master of the ship. The ship is 
foundering. What then have I to do? I do the only thing 
that remains to me — to be drowned without fear, without a 
cry, without upbraiding God, but knowing that what has 
been born must likewise perish. For I am not Eternity, but 
a human being, — a part of the v/hole, as an hour is part of 
the day. I must come like the hour, and like the hour must 


And now we are sending you to Rome to spy out the land ; 
but none send a coward as such a spy, that, if he hear but 
a noise and see a shadow moving anywhere, loses his wits 
and comes flying to say, The enemy are upon us! 

So if you go now, and come and tell us : " Everything at 
Rome is terrible: Death is terrible. Exile is terrible. Slander 
is terrible, Want is terrible ; Fly comrades ! the enemy are 
upon us ! we shall reply, Get you gone, and prophesy to your- 
self! we have but erred in sending such a spy as you. 
Diogenes, who was sent as a spy long before you, brought 
us back another report than this. He says that Death is 
no evil; for it need not even bring shame with it He says 
that Fame is but the empty noise of madmen. And what 
report did this spy bring us of Pain, what of Pleasure, what 
of Want? That to be clothed in sackcloth is better than 
any purple robe; that sleeping on the bare ground is the 
softest couch; and in proof of each assertion he points to 
his own courage, constancy, and freedom ; to his own healthy 
and muscular fram.e. "There is no enemy near/' he cries, 
" all is perfect peace ! " 


If a man has this peace — not the peace proclaimed by 
Csesar (how indeed should he have it to proclaim?) nay, but 
the peace proclaimed by God through reason, will not that 
suffice him when alone, when he beholds and reflects: — Now 
can no evil happen unto me ; for me there is no robber, for me 
no earthquake ; all things are full of peace, full of tranquillity; 
neither highway nor city nor gathering of men, neither neigh- 
bour nor comrade can do me hurt. Another supplies my 
food, whose care it is; another my raiment, another hath 


givem me perceptions of sense and primary conceptions. And 
when He supplies my necessities no more, it is that 
He is sounding the retreat, that He hath opened, the 
<loor, and is saying to thee. Come ! — Whither ? To nought 
that thou needest fear, but to the friendly kindred ele- 
ments whence tho didst spring. Whatsoever of fire is in 
thee, unto fire shall return ; whatsoever of earth, unto earth ; 
of spirit, unto spirit; of water, unto water. There is no 
Hades, no fabled rivers of Sighs, of Lamentation, or of Fire : 
but all things are full of Beings spiritual and divine. With 
thoughts like these, beholding the Sun, Moon, and Stars, 
enjoying earth and sea, a man is neither helpless nor alone ! 


What wouldst thou be found doing when overtaken by 
Death? If I might choose^ I would be found doing some 
deed of true humanity, of wide import, beneficent and noble. 
But if I may not be found engaged in aught so lofty, let 
me hope at least for this — what none may hinder, what is 
surely in my power — that I may be found raising up in my- 
self that which had fallen ; learning to deal more wisely with 
the things of sense; working out my own tranquillity, and 
thus rendering that which is its due to every relation of 
life. . . . 

If death surprise me thus employed, it is enough if I can 
stretch forth my hands to God and say, " The faculties which 
I received at Thy hands for apprehending this thine 
istration, I have not neglected. As far as in me lay, I have 
done Thee no dishonour. Behold how I have used the senses, 
the primary conceptions which Thou gavest me. Have I 
ever laid anything to Thy charge? Have I ever murmured 
at aught that came to pass, or wished it otherwise? Have 
I in anything transgressed the relations of life? For that 
Thou didst beget me, I thank Thee for that Thou hast given : 
for the time during which I have used the things that were 
Thine, it suffices me. Take them back and place them where- 
ever Thou wilt ! They were all Thine, and Thou gavest them 
me." — If a man depart thus minded, is it not enough? What 
life is fairer or more nobie^ what end happier than his ? 




A LIFE entangled with Fortune is like a torrent. It is turbulent 
and muddy; hard to pass and masterful of mood: noisy and of 
brief continuance. 


The soul that companies with Virtue is like an ever-flowing 
source. It is a pure, clear, and wholesome draught; sweet, rich, 
and generous of its store; that injures not, neither destroys. 


It is a shame that one who sweetens his drink with the gifts 
of the bee, should embitter God's gift Reason with vice. 


Crows pick out the eyes of the dead, when the dead have no 
longer need of them; but flatterers mar the soul of the living, 
and her eyes they blind. 


Keep neither a blunt knife nor an ill-disciplined looseness of 


Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may 
hear from others twice as much as we speak. 


Do not give sentence in another tribunal till you have been 
yourself judged in the tribunal of Justice. 




It is shameful for a Judge to be judged by others. 


Give me by all means the shorter and nobler life, instead of 
one that is longer but of less account ! 


Freedom is the name of virtue : Slavery, of vice. . . . None is 
a slave whose acts are free. 


Of pleasures, those which occur most rarely give the most 


Exceed due measure, and the most delightful things become 
the least delightful. 


The anger of an ape — the threat of a flatterer :— these deserve 
equal regard. 


Chastise thy passions that they avenge not themselves upon 


No man is free who is not master of himself. 


A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single 


Fortify th3''self with contentment: that is an impregnable 


No man who is a lover of mone}'-, of pleasure, of glory, is 
likewise a lover of Men; but only he that is a lover of what- 
soever things are fair and good. 


Think of God more often than thou breathest. 



Choose the life that is noblest, for custom can make it sweet 
to thee. 


Let thy speech of God be renewed day by day, aye, rather than 
thy meat and drink. 


Even as the Sun doth not wait for prayers and incantations to 
rise, but shines forth and is welcomed by all: so thou also wait 
not for clapping of hands and shouts and praise to do thy duty; 
nay, do good of thine own accord, and thou wilt be loved like 
the Sun. 


Let no man think that he is loved by any who loveth none. 


If thou rememberest that God standeth by to behold and visit 
all that thou doest; whether in the body or in the soul, thou 
surely wilt not err in any prayer or deed; and thou shalt have 
God to dwell with thee. 

Note. — Schweighseuser's great edition collects i8i fragments attributed 
to Epictetus, of which but a few are certainly genuine. Some (as xxi., 
xxiv., above) bear the stamp of Pythagorean origin; others, though changed 
in form, may well be based upon Epictetean sayings. Most have been pre- 
served in the Anthology of John of Stobi (Stobseus), a Byzantine collector, 
of whom scarcely anything is known but that he probably wrote towards 
the end of the fifth century, and made his vast body of extracts from more 
than five hundred authors for his son's u^e. The best examination of the 
authenticity of the Fragm.ents is QucBstiones Epicteteae, by R. Asmus, 
1888. The above selection includes some ©f doubtful origin but intrinsic 
interest. — Crossley, 




Chiefest glory of deathless Gods, Almighty for ever, 

Sovereign of Nature that rulest by law, what Name shall we 

give Thee? — 
Blessed be Thou! for on Thee should call all things that are 

For that we are Thine offspring; nay, all that in myriad motion 
Lives for its day on the earth bears one impress— Thy likeness 

— upon it. 
Wherefore my song is of Thee, and I hymn Thy power for ever. 

Lo, the vast orb of the Worlds, round the Earth evermore as 

it rolleth. 
Feels Thee its Ruler and Guide, and owns Thy lordship 

Aye, for Thy conquering hands have a servant of living fire — 
Sharp is the bolt! — v/here it falls. Nature shrinks at the shock 

and doth shudder. 
Thus Thou directest the Word universal that pulses through all 

Mingling its life with Lights that are great and Lights that are 

E'en as beseemeth its birth, High King through ages unending. 

Nought Is done that is done without Thee in the earth or the 

Or in the heights of heaven, save the deed of the fool and the 




Thou canst make rough things smooth; at Thy Voice, lo, jarring 

Moveth to music, and Love is born where hatred abounded. 
Thus hast Thou fitted alike things good and things evil together, 
That over all might reign one Reason, supreme and eternal; 
Though thereunto the hearts of the wicked be hardened and 

heedless — 
Woe unto them! — for while ever their hands are grasping at 

good things. 
Blind are their eyes, yea, stopped are their ears to God's Law 

Calling through wise obedience to live the life that is noble. 
This they mark not, but heedless of right, turn each to his 

own way. 
Here, a heart fired with ambition, in strife and straining 

unhallowed ; 
There, thrusting honour aside, fast set upon getting and gaining; 
Others again given over to lusts and dissolute softness, 
y/orking never God's Law, but that which warreth upon it. 

Nay, but, O Giver of all things good, whose home is the dark 

Thou that wieldest Heaven's bolt, save men from their ignorance 

grievous ; 
Scatter its night from their souls, and grant them to come to 

that Wisdom 
Wherewithal, sistered with Justice, Thou rulest and governest 

all things; 
That we, honoured by Thee, may requite Thee with worship and 

Evermore praising thy works, as is meet for men that shall 

perish ; 
Seeing that none, be he mortal or God, hath privilege nobler 
Than without stint, without stay, to extol Thy Law universal. 


^cAwsiV^rrEpicteteae Philosophiae Monumenta, Sch-.veighffiuser, Lips. 1799. 
S'crien^/^Epicteti Dissertationes, H. Schenkl, Ed. Minor, Lips. (Teubner), 
/lj«:M5=Qusstiones Epicteteae, R. Asmus, Friburg, 1888. 

I. Arrian, Discourses i. 16, 15-19 

II. ih. ii. 23, 36-39 

III. ih. iv. 4, 26 

IV. ib. iv. 12, 11-12 

V. z&. iii. 22, 29 

VI. i&. i. 7, 10 

VII. i&. iv. 6, 20 
VIIL tfe. i. 2, 11-18 

IX. j&. i. 3, 1-6 

X. Fragment, quoted by M. Anto- 
ninus, iv. 41; Schweigh. clxxvi. 

XI. Arrian, Disc. i. 18, 15 

XII. ih. i. 29, 21 

XIII. ih. i. 6, 19-22 

XIV. ih. i. 6, 23-29 

XV. ih. i. 9, I 

XVI. ih. i. 9, 4-7 

XVII. ih. i. 9, 10-15 

XVIII. ih. i. 9, 16-17 

XIX. ih. i. 9, 18-22 

XX. ih. i. 6, 37-43 ^ 

XXI. i&. i. 9, 22 

XXII. ih. i. 17, 27-28 

XXIII. ih. i. s, 3-5 

XXIV. ih. i. 10, I- ID (abbreviated) 

XXV. ih. i. 9, 27-28 

XXVI. i&. i. 12, 15-16 

XXVII. 1-&. iv. 3, I 

XXVIII. t&. i. 12, 1-3 

XXIX. j&. i. 12, 7-12 

XXX. Fragment (from "'* Memoirs 
of Epict."); Schweigh. Ixxii.; 
Schenkl, 16 

XXXI. Arrian, Disc. i. 12, 20-21 

XXXII. ih. i. 12, 22-23 

XXXIII. i&. i. 12, 26-27 

XXXIV. ih. I 13 

XXXV. Fragment (Stobs:us), 
Schweigh. xv. ; Schenkl, 17 

XXXVI. Arrian, Disc. i. 14, 1-6 

XXXVII. i&. i. 14, 12-17 

XXXVIII. ih. i. 15, 5 

XXXIX. ih. i. IS, 6-8 
XL. ih. i. 19, 19-23 

XLI. Fragment, Schweigh. xlii.; 

Schenkl, Gn. Epict. St oh. 36 
XLII.i Arrian, Disc i. 19, 24-25 
XLIII. ih. i. 19, 26-29 
XLIV. ib. i. 24, 20. 
XLV. ih. i. 25, 18-22 
XLVI. ih. 1. 26, 15-16 
XLVII. ib. L 26, 17-18 
XLVIII. ib. ii. 2, 8-9 
XLIX. ib. i. 29, 46-49 
L. Fragment (Stobssus); Schweigh, vii, 
LI. Arrian, Di^c. i. 30, 1-4 
LII. ih. i. 29, 16-18 
LIII. ib. iii. i, 36-38 
LIV. ib. ii. 2, 17 
LV. ib. ii. I, 8 and 13 
LVI. i&. ii. 5, 24-29 
LVII. ih. ii. 3, 1-2 
LVIII. 2&. ii. 7, 10-14 
LIX. {&. ii. 8, 1-3 
LX. t&. ii. 8, 9-14 
LXI. i&. ii. 8, 15-23 and 27-28 
LXII. Fragment (Stobsus) ; 

Schweigh. Ivii. 
LXIII. ib. ii. 12, 3-4 
LXIV. ib. ii. 12, 14-25 
LXV. Fragment; Schweigh, clxr. 

(v. Asmus, p. 20) 



LXVI. Arrian, Disc. ii. 14, 10-13 

LXVII. ib. ii. 14, 19-23 

LXVIII. ib. ii. 14, 23-29 

LXIX. ib. ii. 15, 13-14 

LXX. ib. ii. 165 32-34 

LXXI. ib. ii. 16, 41-47 

LXXII. ib. ii. 17, i 

LXXIII. ib. ii. 17, 29-33 

LXXIV. Fragment (M. Antoninus) ; 
Schweigh. clxxviii. ; SchenkI, 28 

LXXV. Arrian, Disc. ii. 18, 5-12 

LXX VI. ib. ii. 18, 19 

LXX VII, ib. ii. 18, 27-29 

LXX VIII. ib. ii. 19, 23-28 

LXXIX. Manual, 37 

LXXX. Arrian, Disc. ii. 21, 11-16 

LXXXI. i&. ii. 24 (abbreviated) 

LXXXIL ib. ii. 22, 24-27, and 29-30 

LXXXIII. ib. iii. 22, 105 

LXXXI V. ib. iii. 5, /-n 

LXXXV. ib. iii. 5, 16-18 (abbrevi- 

LXXXVL ib. iii. 7, 27-28 

LXXXVII, ib. iii. 3, i 

LXXXVIII. Fragment (Stobssus) ; 
Schweigh. Ixvii. ; SchenkI, 5 

LXXXIX. Arrian, Disc, iii, 3, 3-4 

XC. ib. iii. 6, 8 

XCI. ib. iii. 7, 30-36 (abbreviated) 

XCII. ib. iii. 8, 5-6 

XCIII. ib. iii. 9, 1-14 (abbreviated) 

XCIV. lb. iii. 9, 16-18 

XCV. it', iii. 9, 21-22 

XCVI. Fragment (Stobseus) ; 
Schweigh. Ixviii. 

XCVII. Arrian, Disc. iii. 10, 19-20 

XCVIII. ib. iii. 13, 6-8 

XCIX. ib. iii. 16, 1-3 

C. ib. iii. 12, 16-17 

CI. ib. iii. 13, 21 

CII. ib. iii. 13, 23 

cm. ib. iii. 14, 1-3 

CIV. ib. iii. 15, 2-7 and g-f2 

CV. i&. iii. 19, 6 

CVI. *&. iii. 20, 9-12 (abbreviated) 

CVII. ih. iii. 16, 9-10 

CVIII. t&. iii 21, 17-20 

CIX. *■&. iii. 21, 23 

ex. z&. iii. 22, 1-8 

C^. j&. iii. a J, 14-1^ 

CXII. t&. iii. 22, 21 

CXIII. ib. iii. 22, 23-2^, 

CXIV. ib. iii. 22, 45-49 

CXV. t&. iii. 22, 53 

CXVI. i&. iii. 22, 67-69 

CXVII. ib. iii. 22, 83-85 

CXVIII. ib. iii. 22, 86-89 

CXIX. iJ'. iii. 22, 94-96 

CXX. i&. iii. 23, 27-28 

CXXI. ib. iii. 23, 30-32 

CXXII. ib. iii. 24, 2 

CXXIII. ib. iii. 24, 9-1 1 

CXXIV. ib. iii. 24, 15-16 

CXXV. ib. iii. 24, 31-32 and 34-35 

CXX VI. ib. iii. 24, 50-53 (abbrevi- 

CXXVII. ib. iii. 24, 63 

CXXVIII. ib. iii. 24, 64 

CXXIX. ib. iii. 24, 83 

CXXX. ib. iii. 24, 86 and 89-94 

CXXXI. ib. iii. 24, 95-98 

CXXXII. ib. iii, 24, 99-101 

CXXXIII. ib. iii. 24, 109-110 

CXXXIV. ib. iii. 26, 28-30 

CXXXV. ib. iii. 26, 38-39 

CXXX VI. ib. iv. I, 1-3 

CXXXVII. ib. iv. I, 91-98 

CXXXVIIL ib. iv. I, 99-100 

CXXXIX. ib. iv. I, 103-106 

CXL. {b. iv. I, 106-109 

CXLI. ib. iv. I, 151-155 

CXLII. ib. iv. I, 170-173 

CXLIII. Fragment (Antonius Mo- 
nachus) ; Schweigh. cxxx. 

CXLIV. Arrian, Disc. iv. 3, 9-12 

CXLV. ib. iv. 4, 1-5 

CXLVI, ib. iv. 4, 46-47 

CXLVII. «•&. iv. 4, 47-48 

CXLVIIL «■&. iv. 5, 34-35 

CXLIX. Fragment: Schweigh. 
xxxix,; SchenkI, Gn. Epict. Stoh 

CL. Arrian, Disc. iv. 6, 24 

CLI. *&. iv. 7, 6-1 1 

CLII. »&. iv. 7, 19-20 

CLIII. •:&. iii. S» I4 

CLIV. t&. iv. 8, 16-30 

CLV. ib. iv. 8, 35-37 

GLVL »&. iv. 9> 14-1S 



CLVII. Arrian, Disc. i. 23, 1-2 

CLVIII. Manual, xiii. 

CLIX. ih. XV. 

CLX. ih. xvii. 

CLXI. ih. xxi. 

CLXII. ih. xxvii. 

CLXIII. ih. xxxi. 

CLXIV. ih. xxxiii. 

CLXV. ih. xxxiii. 

CLX VI. ih. xxxiii. 

CLXVII, i&. xxxiii. 

CLXVIII. ih. xxxiii. 

CLXIX. ih. xxxiii. 

CLXX. ih. xxxiii. 

CLXXI. ih. xxxiii. 


CLXXIII. ih. xli. 

CLXXIV. ifc. xliii. 

CLXXV. ib. xlvi. 

f CLXXVI. ih. xlvii. 
CLXXVII. f&. xlix. 
CLXX VIII. Fragment; Sch weigh. 

xxxi.; Schenkl, Gn. Epict. Stob. 

CLXXIX. ib. xxxiii. and 23 
CLXXX. ih. xxxiv. and 24 
CLXXXI, ih. attributed to Epict. 

by Maximus; Schweigh. clxxiii. 

(v. Asmus, p. 20) 
CLXXXII. ih.; Schweigh. clxxii. 
CLXXXIII. ih. (Aulus Gellius); 

Schweigh. clxxix. ; Schenkl, 10 
CLXXXIV. Manual, lii. 
CLXXXV. Arrian, Disc. ii. 6, 26 
CLXXXVI. ih. ii. 5, 9-13 
CLXXXVII. ih. i. 24, 3-9 
CLXXXVIII. ib. iii. 13, 12-16 
CLXXXIX. ib. iv. 10, 12-17 


I. Schweigh. Fragment, i; Schenkl, 
Gn. Epict. Stoh. i. 

II. ih. 2 — ib. 2 

III. Schweigh. 12; Schenkl, 22 

IV. ib. 103 

V. ib. 141 

VI. ib. 142 

VII. ih. 60; Schenkl, 50 

VIII. ih. 65; ib. 55 

IX. ib. 96 ♦ 

X. ib. 9; ih. 32 

XI. t&. 54; Schenkl, Fragment, 

XII. ib. 55 ; ib. xxkxVo 

XIII. Schweigh. 104 

XIV. ib. 5; Schenkl, Gn. Epict. 
Stob. 5 

XV. ih. 114; Schenkl, Fragment, xxxv. 

XVI. ih. 89; ib. XXX. 

XVII. ih. 138 

XVIII. ib. 13; Schenkl, G>i. £/>»<:*, 
Stoh. 46 

XIX. ife. 119 

XX. ib. 144 

XXI. i&. 118 

XXII. ib. 88; Schenkl, ib. 67 

XXIII. j&. 156 

XXIV. ib. 120 





Marcus Annius Verus was horn in Rome, A. D. 121, and as- 
sumed the name of Marcm Aurelius Antoninus, by which he is 
known to history, on his adoption by the Emperor T. Aurelius 
Antoninus. He succeeded to the imperial throne in 161, and ruled 
till his death in 180. His reign, though marked by justice and 
moderation at home, was troubled by constant warfare on the 
frontier's of the Empire, and Aurelius spent much of his later 
years in the uncongenial task of commanding armies that no 
longer proved irresistible agaitvst the barbarian hordes. 

M. Aurelius was educated by the orator Pronto, but turned 
aside from rhetoric to the study of the Stoic philosophy, of which 
he was the last distinguished representative. The "Meditations," 
which he wrote in Greek, are among the most noteworthy ex- 
pressions of this system, and exhibit it favorably on its practical 
side. His own precepts he carried out with singular consistency ; 
and both in his public and his private life he was in the highest 
degree conscientious. He and his predecessor are noted as the 
only Roman emperors who can be said to have ruled with a single 
eye to the welfare of their subjects. 

During his reign Rome was visited by a severe pestilence, and 
this, with reverses suffered by his armies, threw the populace into 
a panic, and led them to demand the sacrifice of the Christians, 
whom they regarded as having brought down the anger of the 
gods. Aurelius seems to have shared the panic; and his record 
is stained by his sanction of a cruel persecution. This incident 
in the career of the last, and one of the loftiest, of the pagan mor- 
alists may be regarded as symbolic of the dying effort of heath- 
enism to check the advancing tide of Christianity. 

The ''Meditations" picture with faithfulness the mind and 
character of this noblest of the Emperors. Simple in style and 
sincere in tone, they record for all time the height reached by 
pagan aspiration in its effort to solve the problem of conduct; 
and the essential agreement of his practice with his teaching 
proved that "Even in a palace life may be led well" 


[ROM my grandfather Verus [I learned] good morals 
and the government of my temper. 
2. From the reputation and remembrance of my 
father, modesty and a manly character. 

3. From my m.other, piety and beneficence, and abstinence, 
not only from evil deeds, but even from evil thoughts; and 
further simplicity in my way of living, far removed from 
the habits of the rich. 

4. From my great-grandfather, not to have frequented 
public schools, and to have had good teachers at home, and 
to know that on such things a man should spend liberally. 

5. From my governor, to be neither of the green nor of 
the blue party at the games in the Circus, nor a partizan 
either of the Parmularius or the Scutarius at the gladiators' 
fights; from him too I learned endurance of labor, and to 
want little, and to work with my own hands, and not 
to meddle with other people's affairs, and not to be ready to 
listen to slander. 

6. From Diognetus, not to busy myself about trifling 
things, and noc to give credit to what was said by miracle- 
workers and jugglers about incantations and the driving 
away of daemons and such things; and not to breed quails 
[for fighting], nor to give myself up passionately to such 
things; and to endure freedom of speech; and to have be- 
come intimate with philosophy; and to have been a hearer, 
first of Bacchius, then of Tandasis and Marcianus; and to 

y HC— Vol. 2 


have written dialogues in my youth; and to have desired a 
plank bed and skin, and whatever else of the kind belongs 
to the Grecian discipline. 

7. From Rusticus I received the impression that my 
character required improvement and discipline; and from 
him I learned not to be led astray to sophistic emulation, nor 
to writing on speculative matters, nor to delivering little 
hortatory orations, nor to showing myself off as a man who 
practises much discipline, or does benevolent acts in order 
to make a display ; and to abstain from rhetoric, and poetry, 
and fine writing; and not to walk about in the house in 
my outdoor dress, nor to do other things of the kind; and 
to write my letters with simplicity, like the letter which 
Rusticus wrote from Sinuessa to my mother; and with re- 
spect to those v^^ho have offended me by words, or done me 
wrong, to be easily disposed to be pacified and reconciled, as 
soon as they have shown a readiness to be reconciled; and 
to read carefully, and not to be satisfied with a superficial 
understanding of a book; nor hastily to give my assent to 
those who talk overmuch; and I am indebted to him for 
being acquainted with the discourses of Epictetus, which he 
communicated to me out of his ov/n collection. 

8. From Apollonius I learned freedom of will and undevi- 
ating steadiness of purpose; and to look to nothing else, not 
even for a moment, except to reason; and to be always the 
same, in sharp pains, on the occasion of the loss of a child, 
and in long illness; and to see clearly in a living example 
that the same man can be both most resolute and yielding, 
and not peevish in giving his instruction; and to have had 
before my eyes a man who clearly considered his experience 
and his skill in expounding philosophical principles as the 
smallest of his merits; and from him I learned how to re- 
ceive from friends what are esteemed favors, without being 
either humbled by them or letting them pass unnoticed. 

9. From Sextus, a benevolent disposition, and the example 
of a family governed in a fatherly manner, and the idea of 
living conformably to nature; and gravity without affecta- 
tion, and to look carefully after the interests of friends, and 
to tolerate ignorant persons, and those who form opinions 
without consideration: he had the power of readily accom- 


modating himself to all, so that intercourse with him was 
more agreeable than any flattery ; and at the same time he v/as 
most highly venerated by those who associated with him; 
and he had the faculty both of discovering and ordering, in 
an intelligent and methodical way, the principles necessary 
for life; and he never showed anger or any other passion, 
but was entirely free from passion, and also most affection- 
ate; and he could express approbation without noisy display, 
and he possessed much knowledge without ostentation. 

10. From Alexander, the^ grammarian, to refrain from 
fault-finding, and not in a reproachful way to chide those 
who uttered any barbarous or solecistic or strange-sounding 
expression ; but dexterously to introduce the very expression 
which ought to have been used, and in the way of answer 
or giving confirm.ation, or joining in an inquiry about the 
thing itself, not about the word, or by some other fit sug- 

11. From Fronto I learned to observe what envy and 
duplicity and hypocrisy are in a tyrant, and that generally 
those among us who are called Patricians are rather de- 
ficient in paternal affection. 

12. From Alexander the Platonic, not frequently nor 
without necessity to say to any one, or to write in a letter, 
that I have no leisure; nor continually to excuse the neglect 
of duties required by our relation to those with whom we 
live, by alleging urgent occupations. 

13. From Catulus, not to be indifferent when a friend 
finds fault, even if he should find fault without reason, but 
to try to restore him to his usual disposition ; and to be ready 
to speak well of teachers, as it is reported of Domitius and 
Athenodotus; and to love my children truly. 

14. From my brother Severus, to love my kin, and to 
love truth, and to love justice; and through him I learned to 
know Thrasea, Helvidius, Cato, Dion, Brutus; and from him 
I received the idea of a polity in which there is the same 
law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights 
and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly gov- 
ernment which respects most of all the freedom of the 
governed; I learned from him also consistency and un- 
deviating steadiness in my regard for philosophy, and a 


disposition to do good, and to give to others readily, and 
to cherish good hopes, and to beheve that I am loved by my 
friends; and in him I observed no concealment of his opin- 
ions with respect to those whom he condemned, and that 
his friends had no need to conjecture what he wished or did 
not wish, but it was quite plain. 

15. From Maximus I learned self-government, and not to 
be led aside by anything; and cheerfulness in all circum- 
stances, as well as in illness; and a just admixture in the 
moral character of sweetness and dignity, and to do what 
was set before me without complaining. I observed that 
everybody believed that he thought as he spoke, and that 
in all that he did he never had any bad intention; and he 
never showed amazement and surprise, and was never in a 
hurry, and never put off doing a thing, nor was perplexed 
nor dejected, nor did he ever laugh to disguise his vexation, 
nor, on the other hand, was he ever passionate or suspicious. 
He was accustomed to do acts of beneficence, and was ready 
to forgive, and was free from all falsehood; and he pre- 
sented the appearance of a man who could not be diverted 
from right rather than of a man who had been improved. I 
observed, too, that no man could ever think that he was 
despised by Maximus, or ever venture to think himself a 
better man. He had also the art of being humorous in an 
agreeable v/ay. 

16. In my father I observed mildness of temper, and un- 
changeable resolution in the things which he had deter- 
mined after due deliberation; and no vainglory in those 
things which men call honors ; and a love of labor and per- 
severance; and a readiness to listen to those who had any- 
thing to propose for the common weal; and undeviating 
firmness in giving to every man according to his deserts; 
and a knowledge derived from experience of the occasions 
for vigorous action and for remission. And I observed that 
he had overcome all passion for joys; and he considered 
himself no more than any other citizen, and he released his 
friends from all obligation to sup with him or. to attend him 
of a necessity when he went abroad, and those who failed 
to accompany him by reason of any urgent circumstances, 
always found him the same. I observed, too, his habit of 


fcareful inquiry in all matters of deliberation, and his per- 
sistency, and that he never stopped his investigation through 
being satisfied with appearances which first present them- 
selves; and that his disposition was to keep his friends, 
and not to be soon tired of them, nor yet to be extravagant 
in his affection; and to be satisfied on all occasions, and 
cheerful ; and to foresee things a long way off, and to provide 
for the smallest without display; and to check immediately 
popular applause and flattery, and to be ever watchful over 
the things which were necessary for the administration of the 
empire, and to be a good manager of the expenditure, and 
patiently to endure the blame which he got for such conduct ; 
and he was neither superstitious with respect to the gods, 
nor did he court men by gifts or by trying to please them, 
or by flattering the populace,; but he showed sobriety in all 
things and firmness, and never any mean thoughts or action, 
nor love of novelty. And the things which conduce in any 
way to the commodity of life, and of which fortune gives 
ian abundant supply, he used without arrogance and without 
excusing himself; so that when he had them, he enjoyed 
them without affectation, and wh«n he had them not he 
did not want them. No one could ever say of him that he 
was either a sophist or a [home-bred] flippant slave or a 
pedant; but every one acknowledged him to be a ripe, 
perfect, above flattery, able to manage his own and other 
men's affairs. Besides this, he honored those v/ho were 
true philosophers, and he did not reproach those who pre- 
tended to be philosophers, nor yet was he easily led by them. 
He was also easy in conversation, and he made himself 
agreeable without any offensive affectation. He took a 
reasonable care of his body's health, not as one who was 
greatly attached to life, nor out of regard to personal ap- 
pearance, nor yet in a careless way, but so that, through 
his own attention, he very seldom stood in need of the 
physician's art or of medicine or external applications. He 
was most ready to give way without envy to those v/ho 
possessed any particular faculty, such as that of eloquence 
or knowledge of the law or of morals, or of anything else; 
and he gave them his help, that each might enjoy reputation 
according to his deserts; a,nd he always acted conformably 


to the institutions of his country, without showing any affec- 
tation of doing so. Further, he was not fond of change, 
nor unsteady, but he loved to stay in the same places, and 
to employ himself about the same things; and after his 
paroxysms of headache he came immediately fresh and 
vigorous to his usual occupations. His secrets were not 
many, but very few and very rare, and these only about 
public matters; and he showed prudence and economy in 
the exhibition of the public spectacles and the construction 
of public buildings, his donations to the people, and in such 
things, for he was a man who looked to what ought to be 
done, not to the reputation which is got by a man's acts. He 
did not take the bath at unseasonable hours; he was not 
fond of building houses, nor curious about what he eat, nor 
about the texture and colour of his clothes, nor about the 
beauty of his slaves. His dress came from Lorium, his 
villa on the coast, and from Lanuvium generally. We know 
how he behaved to the toll-collector at Tusculum who asked 
his pardon; and such was all his behaviour. There was in 
him nothing harsh, nor implacable, nor violent, nor, as one 
may say, anything carried to the sweating point: but he 
examined all things severally as if he had abundance of 
time, and without confusion, in an orderly way, vigorously 
and consistently. And that might be applied to him which 
is recorded of Socrates, that he was able both to abstain 
from, and to enjoy, those things which many are too weak 
to abstain from, and cannot enjoy without excess. But to 
be strong enough both to bear the one and to be sober in 
the other is the mark of a man who has a perfect and in- 
vincible soul, such as he showed in the illness of 
17. To the gods I am indebted for having good grand- 
fathers, good parents, a good sister, good teachers, good 
associates, good kinsmen and friends, nearty everything 
good. Further, I owe it to the gods that I was not hurried 
into any oifence against any of them, though I had a dis- 
position which, if opportunity had offered, might have led 
me to do something of this kind ; but, through their favour, 
there never was such a concurrence of circumstances as put 
me to the trial. Further, I am thankful to the gods that I 
was not longer brought up with my grandfather's concubine, 


and that I preserved the fiower of my youth, and that I did 
not make proof of my virility before the proper season, but 
even deferred the time; that I was subjected to a ruler 
and a father who was able to take away all pride from me, 
and to bring me to the knowledge that it is possible for a 
man to live in a palace without wanting either guards or em- 
broidered dresses, or torches and statues, and such-like 
show; but it is in such a man's power to bring himself very 
near to the fashion of a private person, without being for 
this reason either meaner in thought, or more remiss in 
action, with respect to the things which must be done for 
the public interest in a m.anner that befits a ruler. I thank 
the gods for giving me such a brother, v/lio was able by 
his moral character to rouse me to vigilance over myself, 
and who, at the same time, pleased me by his respect and 
affection; that my children have not been stupid nor dc 
formed in body; that I did not make more proficiency in 
rhetoric, poetry, and the other studies, in which I should 
perhaps have been completely engaged, if I had seen that 
I was making progress in them; that I made haste to place 
those who brought me up in the station of honour, which 
they seemed to desire without putting them off with hope 
of my doing it some time after, because they were then still 
young; that I knew Apollonius, Rusticus, Maximus; that I 
received clear and frequent impressions about living accord- 
ing to nature, and what kind of a life that is, so that, so far 
as depended on the gods, and their gifts and help, and in- 
spirations, nothing hindered me from forthwith living ac- 
cording to nature, though I still fall short of it through my 
own fault, and though not observing the admonitions of the 
gods, and, I may almost say, their direct instructions; that 
my body has held out so long in such a kind of life; that 
I never touched either Benedicta or Theodotus, and that, 
after having fallen into amatory passions, I was cured ; and, 
though I was often out of humor v/ith Rusticus, I never 
did anything of which I had occasion to repent; that, though 
it was my mother's fate to die young, she spent the last 
years of her life with me; that whenever I wished to help 
any man in his need, or on any other occasion, I v/as never 
toid that I had not the means of doing it; and that to myself 


the same necessity never happened, to receive any thing 
from another; that I have such a wife, so obedient, and 
so affectionate, and so simple; that I had abundance of 
good masters for my children; and that rem.edies have been 
shown to me by dreams, both others, and against blood- 
spitting and giddiness; .... and that, when I had an 
inclination to philosophy I did not fall into the hands of any 
sophist, and that I did not waste my time on writers [of 
histories], or in the resolution of syllogisms, or occupy my- 
self about the investigation of appearances in the heavens; 
for all these things require the help of the gods and fortune. 
Among the Quadi at the Granua. 


EGIN the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet 
with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, 
envious, unsocial. AH these things happen to them 
by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But 
I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful 
and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who 
does wrong, that it is akin to me, not [only] of the same 
blood or seed, but that it participates in [the same] intelli- 
gence and [the same] portion of the divinity, I can neither 
be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what 
is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him. 
For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like 
eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act 
against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is 
acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away. 

2. Whatever this is that I am, it is a little flesh and breath, 
and the ruling part. Throw away thy books; no longer 
distract thyself: it is not allowed; but as if thou wast now 
dying, despise the flesh, it is blood and bones and a network, 
a contexture of nerves, veins and arteries. See the breath 
also, what kind of a thing it is ; air, and not always the same, 
l)ut every moment sent out and again sucked in. The third 
then is the ruling part : consider thus : Thou art an old man ; 
no longer let this be a slave, no longer be pulled by the 


Strings like a puppet to unsocial movements, no longer be 
either dissatisfied with thy present lot, or shrink from the 

3. Ail that is from the gods is full of providence. That 
which is from fortune is not separated from nature or with- 
out an interweaving and involution with the things which 
are ordered by Providence. From thence all things flow; 
and there is besides necessity, and that which is for the 
advantage of the whole universe, of which thou art a part. 
But that is good for every part of nature which the nature 
of the whole brings, and what serves to maintain this nature. 
Now the universe is preserved, as by the changes of the 
elements so by the changes of things compounded of the 
elements. Let these principles be enough for thee; let them 
always be fixed opinions. But cast away the thirst after 
books, that thou miayest not die murmuring, but cheerfully, 
truly, and from thy heart thankful to the gods. 

4. Remember how long thou hast been putting of? these 
things, and how often thou hast received an opportunity from 
the gods, and yet dost not use it. Thou must now at last 
perceive of what universe thou art a part, and of what 
administrator of the universe thy existence is an efflux, and 
that a limit of time is fixed for thee, which if thou dost not 
use for clearing away the clouds from thy mind, it will go 
and thou wilt go, and it will never return. 

5. Every moment think steadily as a Roman and a man 
to do what thou hast in hand with perfect and simple dig- 
nity, and feeling of affection, and freedom, and justice; 
and to give thyself relief from all other thoughts. And thou 
wilt give thyself relief, if thou doest every act of thy life 
as if it were the last, laying aside all carelessness and pas- 
sionate aversion from the commands of reason, and all 
hypocrisy, and self-love, and discontent with the portion 
which has been given to thee. Thou seest how few the 
things are, the which if a man lays hold of, he is able to 
live a life which flows in quiet, and is like the existence 
of the gods; for the gods on their part will require nothing 
more from him who observes these things. 

6. Do wrong to thj'-self, do wrong to thyself, my soul; 
but thou wilt no longer have the opportunity of honouring 


thyself. Every man's life is sufficient. But thine is nearly 
finished, though thy soul reverences not itself, but places thy 
felicity in the souls of others. 

7. Do the things external which fall upon thee distract 
thee? Give thyself time to learn something new and good, 
and cease to be whirled around. But then thou must also 
avoid being carried about the other way. For those too are 
trifiers who have wearied themselves in life by their activity, 
and yet have no object to which to direct every movement, 
and, in a word, all their thoughts. 

8. Through not observing what is in the mind of another 
a man has seldom been seen to be unhappy; but those who 
do not observe the movements of their own mands must of 
necessity be unhappy. 

9. This thou must always bear in mind, what is the nature 
of the whole, and what is my nature, and how this is related 

'to that, and what kind of a part it is of what kind of a 
whole; and that there is no one who hinders thee from 
always doing and saying the things which are according to 
the nature of which thou art a part. 

10. Theophrastus, in his comparison of bad acts — such a 
comparison as one would make in accordance with the com- 
mon notions of mankind — says, like a true philosopher, that 
the offences which are committed through desire are more 
blamable than those which are committed through anger. 
For he who is excited by anger seems to turn away from 
reason with a certain pain and unconscious contraction; 
but he who offends through desire, being overpowered by 
pleasure, seems to be in a manner more intemperate and 
more v/omanish in his oft'ences. Rightly then, and in a 
way worthy of philosophy, he said that the offence which is 
committed with pleasure is more blamable than that which 
is committed with pain; and on the whole the one is more 
like a person who has been first wronged and through pain 
is compelled to be a-ngry ; but the other is moved by his own 
impulse to do v/rong, being carried toward doing something 
by desire. 

11. Since it is possible that thou mayest depart from life 
this very moment, regulate every act and thought accord- 
ingly. But to go away from among men, if there are gods. 


Is not a thing to be afraid of, for the gods will not involve 
thee in evil ; Uut if indeed they do not exist, or if they have 
no concern about human affairs, what is it to me to live in 
a universe devoid of gods or devoid of providence? But in 
truth they do exist, and they do care for human things, and 
they have put all the m^eans in man's power to enable him 
not to fall into real evils. And as to the rest, if there was 
anything evil, they would have provided for this also, that 
it should be altogether in a's povv^er not to fall into 
it. Now, that which does not make a man worse, how can 
it make a man's life worse ? But neither through ignorance, 
nor having the knowledge, but not the power to guard 
against or correct these things, is it possible that the nature 
of the universe has overlooked them; nor is it possible that 
it has made so great a mistake, either through want of 
power or want of skill, that good and evil should happen 
indiscriminately to the good and the bad. But death cer- 
tainly, and life, honour and dishonour, pain and pleasure, all 
these things equally happen to good men and bad, being 
things which make us neither better nor worse. Therefore 
they are neither good nor evil. 

12. How quickly all these things disappear, in the universe 
the bodies themselves, but in time the rem.embrance of them ; 
what is the nature of all sensible things, and particularly 
those v/hich attract with the bait of pleasure or terrify by 
pain, or are noised about by vapory fame; how worthless, 
and contemptible, and sordid and perishable, and dead they 
are — all this it is the part of the intellectual faculty to ob- 
serve. To observe too v/ho these are whose opinions and 
voices give reputation; what death is, and the fact that, if 
a man looks at it in itself, and by the abstractive power 
of reflection resolves into their parts all the things which 
present themselves to the imagination in it, he will then 
consider it to be nothing else than an operation of nature; 
and if any one is afraid of an operation of nature he is a 
child. This, however, is not only an operation of nature, but 
it is also a thing which conduces to the purposes of nature. 
To observe, too, how man comes near to the Deity, and by 
what part of him, and when this part of man is so dis' 
posed (vi. 28), 


13. Nothing is more wretched than a man who traverses 
everything in a round, and pries into things beneath the 
earth, as the poet says, and seeks by conjecture what is 
in the minds of his neighbors, without perceiving that it is 
sufficient to attend to the daemon within him, and to reverence 
it sincerely. And reverence of the daemon consists in keeping 
it pure from passion and thoughtlessness, and dissatisfaction 
with what comes from gods and men. For the things from 
the gods merit veneration for their excellence; and the 
things from, men should be dear to us by reason of kinship; 
and sometimes even, in a manner, they move our pity by 
reason of men's ignorance of good and bad; this defect 
being not less than that which deprives us of the power of 
distinguishing things that are white and black. 

14. Though thou shouldest be going to live three thou- 
sand years, and as many times ten thousand years, still re- 
member that no man loses any other life than this v/hich he 
now lives, nor lives any other than this which he now loses. 
The longest and shortest are thus brought to the same. For 
the present is the same to all, though that which perishes is 
not the same; and so that which is lost appears to be a 
mere moment. For a man cannot lose either the past or the 
future : for what a has not, how can any one take this 
from him? These two things then thou must bear in mind: 
the one, that all things from eternity are of like forms and 
come round in a circle, and that it makes no difference 
whether a man shall see the same things during a hundred 
years or two hundred, or an infinite tim.e; and the second, 
that the longest liver and he who will die soonest lose just 
the same. For the present is the only thing of which a man 
can be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which 
he has, and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not. 

15. Remember that all is opinion. For what was said by 
the Cynic Monimus is manifest: and manifest too is the use 
of what was said, if a man receives what may be got out of 
it as far as it is true. 

16. The soul of man does violence to itself, first of all 
when it becomes an abscess and, as it were, a tumour on the 
universe, so far as it can. For to be vexed at anything 
whith happens is a separation of ourselves from nature, in 


some part of which the natures of all other things are con- 
tained. In the next place, the soul does violence to itself 
when it turns away from any, or even moves towards 
him with the intention of injuring, such as are the souls 
of those who are angry. In the third place, the soul does 
violence to itself when it is overpowered by pleasure or 
by pain. Fourthly, when it plays a part, and does or says 
anything insincerely and untruly. Fifthly, when it allows 
any act of its own and any movem.ent to be without an aim, 
and does anything thoughtlessly and without considering 
what it is, it being right that even the smallest things be 
done with reference to an end; and the end of rational ani- 
mals is to follow the reason and the law of the most ancient 
city and polity. 

17. Of the human life the time is a point, and the sub- 
stance is in a flux, and the perception dull, and the com- 
position of the whole body subject to putrefaction, and the 
soul of a whirl, and fortune hard to divine, and fame a thing 
devoid of judgment. And, to say all in a word, everything 
which belongs to the body is a stream, and what belongs to 
the soul is a dream and vapour, and life is a warfare and a 
stranger's sojourn, and after-fame is oblivion. What, then, 
is that which is able to conduct a man? One thing, and 
only one — philosophy. But this consists in keeping the 
daemon within a man free from violence and unharmed, 
superior to pains and pleasures, doing nothing without a 
purpose, nor yet falsely and with hypocrisy, not feeling the 
need of another man's doing or not doing anything; and 
besides, accepting all that happens, and all that is allotted, 
as coming from thence, wherever it is, from whence he him- 
self came; and, finally, waiting for death with a cheerful 
mind, as being nothing else than a dissolution of the elements 
of which every living being is compounded. But if there is 
no harm to the elements themselves in each continually 
changing into another, why should a man have any appre- 
hension about the change and dissolution of all the elements ? 
For it is according to nature, and nothing is evil which is 
according to nature. 

This in Carnuntum, 



E ought to consider not only that our life is daily 
wasting away and a smaller part of it is left, but 
another thing also must be taken into the account, 
that if a man should live longer it is quite uncertain whether 
the understanding will still continue sufficient for the com- 
prehension of things, and retain the power of contemplation 
v/hich strives to acquire the knowledge of the divine and the 
human. For if he shall begin to fall into dotage, perspiration 
and nutrition and imagination and appetite, and whatever 
else there is of the kind, will not fail; but the power of 
making use of ourselves, and filling up the measure of our 
duty, and clearly separating all appearances, and considering 
whether a man should now depart from life, and whatever 
else of the kind absolutely requires a disciplined reason, all 
this is already extinguished. We must m.ake haste then, not 
only because we are daily nearer to death, but also because 
the conception of things and the understanding of them 
cease first. 

2. We ought to observe also that even the things which 
follow after the things which are produced according to 
nature contain something pleasing and attractive. For in- 
stance, when bread is baked some parts are split at the surface, 
and these parts which thus open, and have a certain fashion 
contrary to the purpose of the baker's art, are beautiful in 
a manner, and in a peculiar way excite a desire for eating. 
And again, figs, when they are quite ripe, gape open, and in 
the ripe olives the very circum.stance of their being near to 
rottenness adds a peculiar beauty to the fruit. And the ears 
of corn bending down, and the lion's eyebrows, and the foam 
which flows from the m.outh of wild boars, and many other 
things — ^though they are far from being beautiful, if a man 
should examine them severally — still, because they are con- 
sequent upon the things which are formed by nature, help to 
adorn them, and they please the mind; so that if a man 
should have a feeling and deeper insight with respect to the 
things which are produced in the universe, there is hardly 
one of those which follow by way of consequence which 


will not seem to him to be in a manner disposed so as to 
give pleasure. And so he will see even the real gaping jaws 
of wild beasts with no less pleasure than those which paint- 
ers and sculptors show by im.itation; and in an old woman 
and an old man he will be able to see a certain maturity and 
comeliness; and the attractive loveliness of young persons 
he will be able to look on with chaste eyes; and many such 
things will present themselves, not pleasing to every man, 
but to him only who has become truly familiar with nature 
and her works. 

3. Hippocrates after curing many diseases himself fell sick 
and died. The Chald^i foretold the deaths of many, and 
then fate caught them too, Alexander, and Pompeius, and 
Caius Caesar, after so often completely destroying whole 
cities, and in battle cutting to pieces many ten thousands of 
cavalry and infantry, themselves too at last departed from 
life. Heraclitus, after so many speculations on the con- 
flagration of the universe, was filled with water internally 
and died smeared all over with mud. And lice destroyed 
Democritus; and other lice killed Socrates. What means 
all this? Thou hast embarked, thou hast made the voyage, 
thou art come to shore; get out. If indeed to another life, 
there is no want of gods, not even there. But if to a state 
w^ithout sensation, thou wilt cease to be held by pains and 
pleasures, and to be a slave to the vessel, which is as much 
inferior as that which serves It is superior; for the one is 
intelligence and deity; the other Is earth and corruption. 

4. Do not waste the remainder of thy life In thoughts 
about others, when thou dost not refer thy thoughts to some 
object of common utility. For thou losest the opportunity 
of doing something else when thou hast such thoughts as 
these, What Is such a person doing, and why, and what is 
he saying, and what Is he thinking of, and what Is he con- 
triving, and v/hatever else of the kind makes us wander 
away from the observation of our own ruling power. We 
ought then to check In the series of our thoughts every- 
thing that Is without a purpose and useless, but most of 
all the overcurious feeling and the malignant; and a man 
should use himself to think of those things only about which 
if one should suddenly ask. What hast thou now in thy 


thoughts? with perfect openness thou mightest imme- 
diately answer. This or That; so that from thy words 
it should be plain that everything in thee is simple and be- 
nevolent, and such as befits a social animal, one that cares 
not for thoughts about pleasure or sensual enjoyments 
at all, nor has any rivalry or envy and suspicion, or 
anything else for which thou wouldst blush if thou 
shouldst say that thou hadst it in thy mind. For the 
man who is such and no longer delays being among the 
number of the best, is like a priest and minister of the gods, 
using too the [deity] which is planted within him, which 
makes the man uncontaminated by pleasure, unharmed by 
any pain, untouched by any insult, feeling no wrong, a 
fighter in the noblest fight, one who cannot be overpowered 
by any passion, dyed deep with justice, accepting with all 
his soul everything which happens and is assigned to him 
as his portion; and not often, nor yet without great neces- 
sity and for the general interest, imagining what another 
says, or does, or thinks. For it is only what belongs to 
himself that he makes the matter for his activity; and he 
constantly thinks of that which is allotted to himself out 
of the sum total of things, and he makes his own acts fair, 
and he is persuaded that his own portion is good. For 
the lot which is assigned to each man is carried along 
with him and carries him along with it. And he remem- 
bers also that every rational animal is his kinsman, and 
that to care for all m.en is according to man's nature; and 
a man should hold on to the opinion not of all but of those 
only v/ho confessedly live according to nature. But as to 
those v/ho live not so, he always bears in mxind what kind 
of men they are both at home and from home, both by 
night and by day, and what they are, and V\^ith what men 
they live an im.pure life. Accordingly, he does not value 
at all the praise which comes from such men, since they 
are not even satisfied with themselves. 

5. Labour not unwillingly, nor without regard to the com- 
mon interest, nor without due consideration, nor with dis- 
traction; nor let studied ornament set off thy thoughts, and 
be not either a man of many words, or busy about too many 
things. And imthQX^ let the deity; which is in thee be the 


guardian of a living being, manly and of ripe age, and en- 
gaged in matter political, and a Roman, and a ruler, who has 
taken his post like a man waiting for the signal which sum- 
mons him from life, and ready to go, having need neither of 
oath nor of any man's testimony. Be cheerful also, and seek 
not external help nor the tranquillity which others give. A 
man then must stand erect, not be kept erect by others. 

6. If thou findest in human life anything better than justice, 
truth, temperance, fortitude, and, in a word, anything better 
than thy own mind's self-satisfaction in the things which it 
enables thee to do according to right reason, and in the con- 
dition that is assigned to thee without thy own choice; if, 
I say, thou seest anything better than this^ turn to it with 
all thy soul, and enjoy that which thou hast found to be the 
best. But if nothing appears to be better than the deity 
which is planted in thee, which has subjected to itself all 
thy appetites, and carefully examines all the impressions, and 
as Socrates said, has detached itself from the persuasions of 
sense, and has submitted itself to the gods, and cares for 
mankind; if thou findest everything else smaller and of less 
value than this, give place to nothing else, for if thou dost 
once diverge and incline to it, thou wilt no longer without 
distraction be able to give the preference to that good thing 
which is thy proper possession and thy own; for it is not 
right that anything of any other kind, such as praise from 
the many, or power, or enjoyment of pleasure, should come 
into competition with that which is rationally and politically 
[or, practically] good. All these things, even though they 
may seem to adapt themselves [to the better things] in a 
small degree, obtain the superiority all at once, and carry 
us away. But do thou, I say, simply and freely choose the 
better, and hold to it. — But that which is useful is the better. — 
Well then, if it is only useful to thee as a rational being, 
keep to it; but if it is only useful to thee as an animal, 
say so, and maintain thy judgment without arrogance; only 
take care that thou makest the inquiry by a sure method. 

7. Never value anything as profitable to thyself which shall 
compel thee to break thy promise, to lose thy self-respect, to 
hate any man, to suspect, to curse, to act the hypocrite, to 
desire anything which needs walls and curtains: for he who 


has preferred to everything else his own intelligence and 
daemon and the worship of its excellence, acts no tragic part, 
does not groan, will not need either solitude or muc?i com- 
pany; and, what is chief of all, he will live without either 
pursuing or flying from [death] ; but whether for a longer 
or a shorter time he shall have the soul inclosed in the body, 
he cares not at all; for even if he must depart immediately, 
he will go as readily as if he were going to do anything else 
which can be done with decency and order; taking care of 
this only all through life, that his thoughts turn not away 
from anything which belongs to an intelligent animal and 
a member of a civil community. 

8. In the mind of one who is chastened and purified thou 
Vv^iit find no corrupt matter, nor impurity, nor any sore 
skinned over. Nor is his life incomplete when fate over- 
takes him, as one may say of an actor v/ho leaves the stage 
before ending and finishing the play. Besides, there is in 
him nothing servile, nor affected, nor too closely bound [to 
other things], nor yet detached [from other things], nothing 
worthy of blame, nothing which seeks a hiding-place. 

9. Reverence the faculty which produces opinion. On this 
faculty it entirely depends whether there shall exist in thy 
ruling part any opinion inconsistent with nature and the con- 
stitution of the rational animal. And this faculty promises 
freedom from hasty judgment, and friendship towards m.en, 
and obedience to the gods. 

10. Throwing away, then, all things, hold to these only 
which are few; and besides bear in mind that every man 
lives only this present time, which is an indivisible point, and 
that all the rest of his life is either past or it is uncertain. 
Short then is the time v/hich every man lives, and small the 
nook of the earth where he lives; and short too the longest 
posthumous fame, and even this only continued by a suc- 
cession of poor human beings, who v/ill very soon die, and 
who know not even themselves, much less him who died long 

11. To the aids which have been mentioned let this one 
still be added: — Make for thyself a definition or description 
of the thing which is presented to thee, so as to see distinctly 
what kind of a thing it is in its substance, in its nudity, m 


its complete entirety, and tell thyself its proper name, and 
the names of the things of which it has been compounded, 
and into which it will be resolved. For nothing is so pro- 
ductive of elevation of mind as to be able to examine method- 
ically and truly every object v/hich is presented to thee in 
life, and always to look at things so as to see at the sam.e time 
what kind of universe this is, and what kind of use every- 
thing performs in it, and what value everything has with ref- 
erence to the whole, and what with reference to man, who 
is a citizen of the highest city, of which all other cities are 
like families ; what each thing is, and of what it is composed, 
and how long it is the nature of this thing to endure which 
now makes an impression on me, and what virtue I have 
need of with respect to it, such as gentleness, manliness, truth, 
fidelity, simplicity, contentmicnt, and the rest. Vv^herefore, 
on every occasion a man should say: This comes from God; 
and this is according to the apportionment and spinning of 
the thread of destiny, and such-like coincidence and chance; 
and this is from one of the same stock and a and 
partner, one who knows not however what is according to 
his nature. But I know; for this reason I behave towards 
him according to the natural law of fellowship with benev- 
olence and justice. At the same time hov/ever in things 
indifferent I attempt to ascertain the value of each. 

12. If thou workest at that which is before thee, following 
right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing 
anything else to distract thee, but keeping thy divine part 
pure, as if thou shouldst be bound to give it back im- 
mediately ; if thou boldest to this, expecting nothing, fearing 
nothing, but satisfied with thy present activity according to 
nature, and with heroic truth in every word and sound which 
thou utterest, thou wilt live happy. And there is no man 
who is able to prevent this. 

13. Als physicians have always their instruments and 
knives ready for cases which suddenly require their skill, 
so do thou have principles ready for the understanding of 
things divine and human, and doing everything, even the 
smallest, with a recollection of the bond which unites 
the divine and human to one another. For neither wilt 
thou do anything well which pertains to man without at 


the same time having a reference to things divine; nor the 

14. No longer wander at hazard; for neither wilt thou 
read thy own memoirs, nor me acts of the ancient Romans and 
Hellenes, and the selections from books which thou wast 
reserving for thy old age. Hasten then to the end which 
thou hast before thee, and, throwing away idle hopes, come 
to thy own aid, if thou carest at all for thyself, while it is 
in thy power. 

15. They know not how many things are signified by the 
words stealing, sov/ing, buying, keeping quiet, seeing Vv^hat 
ought to be done; for this is not effected by the eyes, but by 
another kind of vision. 

16. Body, soul, intelligence: to the body belong sensations, 
to the soul appetites, to the intelligence principles. To re- 
ceive the impressions of forms by means of appearances 
belongs even to animals ; to be pulled by the strings of desire 
belongs both to v/ild beasts and to men who have made them- 
selves into women, and to a Phalaris and a Nero: and to 
have the intelligence that guides to the things which appear 
suitable belongs also to those who do not believe in the gods, 
and who betray their country, and do their impure deeds 
when they have shut the doors. If then everything else is 
common to all that I have mentioned, there remains that 
which is peculiar to the good man, to be pleased and content 
with v\^hat happens, and with the thread which is spun for 
him; and not to defile the divinity which is planted in his 
breast, nor disturb it by a crowd of images, but to preserve 
it tranquil, following it obediently as a god, neither saying 
anything contrary to the truth, nor doing anything contrary to 
justice. And if all men refuse to believe that he lives a simple, 
modest, and contented life, he is neither angry with any of 
them, nor does he deviate from the way which leads to the end 
of life, to which a man ought to come pure, tranquil, ready to 
depart, and without any compulsion perfectly reconciled to 
liis lot. 



I HAT which rules within, when it is according to 
nature, is so affected with respect to the events v/hich 
happen, that it always easily adapts itself to that 
which is possible and is presented to it. For it requires no 
definite material, but it moves towards its purpose, under 
certain conditions however ; and it makes a material for itself 
out of that which opposes it, as fire lays hold of what falls 
into it, by which a small light would have been extinguished : 
but when the fire is strong, it soon appropriates to itself 
the matter which is heaped on it, and consumes it, and rises 
higher by means of this very material. 

2. Let no act be done without a purpose, nor otherwise 
than according to the perfect principles of art. 

3. Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, 
sea-shores and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire 
such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the 
most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever 
thou shalt choose to retire into thyself. For nowhere, either 
with more quiet or more freedom from trouble, does a man 
retire than into his own soul, particularly v\^hen he has 
within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is 
immediately in perfect tranquillity; and I affirm that tran- 
quillity is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind. 
Constantly then give to thyself this retreat, and renew thy- 
self ; and let thy principles be brief and fundamental, which, 
as soon as thou shalt recur to them, will be sufficient to 
cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back free from 
all discontent with the things to which thou returnest. For 
with what art thou discontented ? With the badness of men ? 
Recall to thy mind this conclusion, that rational animals 
exist for one another, and that to endure is a part of justice, 
and that men do wrong involuntarily; and consider how 
many already, after mutual enmity, suspicion, hatred and 
fighting, have been stretched dead, reduced to ashes ; and be 
quiet at last. — But perhaps thou art dissatisfied with that 
which is assigned to thee out of the universe. — Recall to 
thy recollection this alternative; either there is providence 


or atoms [fortuitous concurrence of things] ; or remember 
the arguments by which it has been proved that the world 
is a kind of a political community [and be quiet at last]. — 
But perhaps corporeal things will still fasten upon thee. — 
Consider then further that the mind mingles not with the 
breath, whether moving gently or violently, when it has once 
draY\^n itself apart and discovered its own power, and think 
also of all that thou hast heard and assented to about pain 
and pleasure [and be quiet at last]. — But perhaps the desire 
of the thing called fame will torment thee. — See how soon 
everything is forgotten, and look at the chaos of infinite 
time on each side of [the present], and the emptiness of ap- 
plause, and the changeableness and want of judgment in 
those who pretend to give praise, and the narrowness of 
the space within which it is circumscribed [and be quiet at 
last]. For the whole earth is a point, and how small a 
nook in it is this thy dwelling, and how few are there in it, 
and what kind of people are they who will praise thee. 

This then remains : Remember to retire into this little ter- 
ritory of thy own, and, above all, do not distract or strain 
thyself, but be free, and look at things as a man, as a human 
being, as a citizen, as a mortal. But among the things 
readiest to thy hand to which thou shalt turn, let there be 
these, which are two. One is that things do not touch the 
soul, for they are external and remain immovable ; but our 
perturbations come only from the opinion which is within. 
The other is that all these things, which thou seest, change 
immediately and will no longer be; and constantly bear in 
mind how many of these changes thou hast already wit- 
nessed. The universe is transformation: life is opinion. 

4. If our intellectual part is common, the reason also, in 
respect of which we are rational beings, is common: if this 
is so, common also is the reason which commands us what 
to do, and what not to do; if this is so, there is a com- 
mon law also ; if this is so, we are fellow-citizens ; if this is 
so, we are members of some political community ; if this is so, 
the world is in a m.anner a state. For of what other common 
political community will any one say that the whole human 
race are members? And from thence, from this common 
political community comes also our very intellectual faculty 


and reasoning faculty and our capacity for law; or whence 
do they come ? For as my earthly part is a portion given to 
me from certain earth, and that which is watery from an- 
other element, and that which is hot and fiery from some 
peculiar source (for nothing comes out of that which is 
nothing, as nothing also returns to non-existence), so also 
the intellectual part comes from some source. 

5. Death is such as generation is, a mystery of nature; a 
composition out of the same elements, and a decomposition 
into the same ; and altogether not a thing of which any man 
should be ashamed, for it is not contrary to [the nature of] 
a reasonable animal, and not contrary to the reason of our 

6. It is natural that these things should be done by such 
persons, it is a matter of necessity; and if a man will not 
have it so, he will not allow the fig-tree to have juice. But 
by all means bear this in mind, that within a very short time 
both thou and he will be dead ; and soon not even your names 
will be left behind. 

7. Take aw^ay thy opinion, and then there is taken away 
the complaint, " I have been harmied." Take away the com- 
plaint, " I have been harmed," and the harm is taken away. 

8. That which does not make a man worse than he was, 
also does not make his life worse, nor does it harm him 
either from vv^ithout or from within. 

9. The nature of that which is [universally] useful has 
been compelled to do this. 

10. Consider that everything which happens, happens 
justly, and if thou observest carefully, thou wilt find it to be 
so. I do not say only with respect to the continuity of the 
series of things, but with respect to what is just, and as if 
it were done by one who assigns to each thing its value. 
Observe then as thou hast begun; and whatever thou doest, 
do it in conjunction with this, the being good, and in the 
sense in which a man is properly understood to be good. 
Keep to this in every action. 

11. Do not have such an opinion of things as he has who 
does thee wrong, or such as he wishes thee to have, but 
look at them as they are in truth, 

12. A man should always have these two rules in readi- 


ness; the one, to do only whatever the reason of the ruling 
and legislating faculty may suggest for the use of men; the 
other, to change thy opinion, if there is any one at hand 
who sets thee right and moves thee from any opinion. But 
this change of opinion must proceed only from a certain 
persuasion, as of what is just or of common advantage, and 
the like, not because it appears pleasant or brings reputation. 

13. Hast thou reason? I have. — Why then dost not thou 
use it? For if this does its own work, what else dost thou 

14. Thou hast existed as a part. Thou shalt disappear in 
that which produced thee; but rather thou shalt be received 
back into its seminal principle by transmutation. 

15. Many grains of frankincense on the same altar; one 
falls before, another falls after; but it makes no difference. 

16. Within ten days thou wilt seem a god to those to whom 
thou art now a beast and an ape, if thou wilt return to thy 
principles and the worship of reason. 

17. Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand 
years. Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it 
is in thy power, be good. 

18. Kow much trouble he avoids who does not look to see 
whal his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only to what 
he does himself, that it may be just and pure; or as Agathon 
says, look not round at the depraved morals of others, but 
run straight along the line v/ithout deviating from it. 

19. He who has a vehement desire for posthumous fame 
does not consider that every one of those who remember 
him will himself also die very soon; then again also they 
,who have succeeded them, until the whole remembrance shall 
have been extinguished as it is transmitted through men 
who foolishly admire and perish. But suppose that those 
who will remember are even immortal, and that the re- 
membrance will be immortal, what then is this to thee ? And 
I say not what is it to the dead, but what is it to the living. 
What is praise, except indeed so far as it has a certain 
utility. For thou now rejectest unseasonably the gift of 
nature, clinging to something else. . . . 

20. Everything which is in any way beautiful is beautiful 
in itself^ and terminates in itself, not having praise as part 


of itself. Neither worse then nor better is a thing made by 
being praised. I affirm this also of the things v/hich are 
called beautiful by the vulgar; for example, material things 
and works of art. That which is really beautiful has no 
need of anything; not more than law, not more than truth, 
not more than benevolence or modesty. Which of these 
things is beautiful because it is praised, or spoiled by being 
blamed? Is such a thing as an emerald made worse than 
it was, if it is not praised? or gold, ivory, purple, a lyre, 
a little knife, a flower, a shrub ? 

21. If souls continue to exist, how does the air contain 
them from eternity? — But how does the earth contain the 
bodies of those who have been buried from time so remote? 
For as here the mutation of these bodies after a certain 
continuance, whatever it may be, and their dissolution make 
room for other dead bodies; so the souls which are removed 
into the air after subsisting for some time are transmuted 
and diffused, and assume a fiery nature by being received 
into the seminal intelligence of the universe, and in this way 
make room for the fresh souls which come to dwell there. 
And this is the answer which a man might give on the hy- 
pothesis of souls continuing to exist. But we must not only 
think of the number of bodies which are thus buried, but 
also of the number of animals which are daily eaten by us 
and the other animals. For what a number is consumed, 
and thus in a manner buried in the bodies of those who feed 
on them? And nevertheless this earth receives them by 
reason of the changes [of these bodies] into blood, and the 
transformations into the aerial, or the fiery element. 

What is the investigation into the truth in this matter? 
The division into that which is m.aterial and that which is 
the cause of form [the formal] (vii. 29). 

22. Do not be whirled about, but in every movement have 
respect to justice, and on the occasion of every impression 
maintain the faculty of comprehension [or understanding]. 

23. Everything harmonizes with me, which is harmonious 
to thee, O Universe. Nothing for me is too early nor too 
late, which is in due time for thee. Everything is fruit to 
me which thy seasons bring, O Nature: from thee are all 
things, in thee are ail things, to thee all things return. The 


poet says, Dear City of Cecrops ; and wilt not thou say, Dear 
city of Zeus ? 

24. Occupy thyself with few things, says the philosopher, 
if thou wouldst be tranquil. — But consider if it would not 
be better to say. Do what is necessary, and whatever the 
reason of the animal which is naturally social requires, and 
as it requires. For this brings not only the tranquillity 
which comes from doing wtll, but also that which comes 
from doing few things. For the greatest part of what we say 
and do being unnecessary, if a man takes this away, he will 
have more leisure and less uneasiness. Accordingly on every 
occasion a man should ask himself, Is this one of the un- 
necessary things? Now a man should take away not only 
unnecessary acts but also unnecessary thoughts, for thus 
superfluous acts will not follow after. 

25. Try how the life of the good man suits thee, the life 
of him who is satisfied with his portion out of the whole, 
and satisfied with his own just acts and benevolent dispo- 

26. Hast thou seen those things? Look also at these. 
Do not disturb thyself. Make thyself all simplicity. Does 
any one do wrong ? It is to himself that he does the wrong. 
Has anything happened to thee? Well, out of the universe 
from the beginning everything which happens has been ap- 
portioned and spun out to thee. In a word, thy life is short. 
Thou must turn to profit the present by the aid of reason and 
justice. Be sober in thy relaxation. 

27. Either it is a well arranged universe or a chaos hud- 
dled together, but still a universe. But can a certain order 
subsist in thee, and disorder in the All ? And this, too, when 
all things are so separated and diffused and sympathetic. 

28. A black character, a womanish character, a stubborn 
character, bestial, childish, animal, stupid, counterfeit, scur- 
rilous, fraudulent, tyrannical. 

29. If he is a stranger to the universe who does not know 
what is in it, no less is he a stranger who does not know 
what is going on in it. He is a runaway, who flies from social 
reason; he is blind, who shuts the eyes of the understanding; 
he is poor, who has need of another, and has not from him- 
self all things which are useful for life. He is an abscess 


on the universe who withdraws and separates himself from 
the reason of our common nature through being displeased 
with the things which happen, for the same nature produces 
this, and has produced thee too; he is a piece rent asunder 
from the state, who tears his own soul from that of reason- 
able animals, which is one. 

30. The one is a philosopher without a tunic, and the other 
without a book: here is another half -naked: Bread I have 
not, he says, and I abide by reason. And I do not get the 
means of living out of my learning, and I abide [by my 

31. Love the art, poor as it may be, v/hich thou hast 
learned, and be content with it ; and pass through the rest of 
life like one who has intrusted to the gods with his whole 
soul all that he has, making thyself neither the tyrant nor 
the slave of any man. 

32. Consider, for example, the times of Vespasian. Thou 
wilt see all these things, people marrying, bringing up chil- 
dren, sick, dying, warring, feasting, trafficking, cultivating 
the ground, flattering, obstinately arrogant, suspecting, plot- 
ting, wishing for some to die, grumbling about the present, 
loving, heaping up treasure, desiring consulship, kingly 
power. Well, then, that life of these people no longer exists 
at all. Again, remove to the times of Trajan. Again, all 
is the same. Their life, too, is gone. , In like manner view 
also the other epochs of time and of whole nations, and see 
how many after great efforts soon fell and were resolved 
into the elements. But chiefly thou shouldst think of those 
whom thou hast thyself known distracting themselves about 
idle things, neglecting to do what was in accordance with 
their proper constitution, and to hold firmly to this and to 
be content with it. And herein it is necessary to remember 
that the attention given to everything has its proper value 
and proportion. For thus thou wilt not be dissatisfied, if 
thou appliest thyself to smaller matters no further than is fit, 

32. The words which were formerly familiar are now anti- 
quated; so also the names of those who were famed of old, 
are now in a manner antiquated: Camillus, Caeso, Volesus, 
Leonnatus, and a little after also Scipio and Cato, then 
Augustus, then also Hadrianus and Antoninus. For all 


things soon pass away and become a mere tale, and complete 
oblivion soon buries them. And I say this of those who have 
shone in a wondrous way. For the rest, as soon as they 
have breathed out their breath, they are gone, and no man 
speaks of them. And, to conclude the matter, what is even 
an eternal remembrance? A mere nothing. V\^hat, then, 
is that about which we ought to employ our serious pains? 
This one thing, thoughts just, and acts social, and words 
which never lie, and a disposition which gladly accepts all 
that happens, as necessary, as usual, as flowing from a prin- 
ciple and source of the same kind. 

34. Willingly give thyself up to Clotho [one of the fates], 
allowing her to spin thy thread into whatever things she 

35. Everything is only for a day, both that which remem- 
bers and that which is remembered. 

36. Observe constantly that all things take place by change, 
and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Uni- 
verse loves nothing so much as to change the things which 
are and to make new things like them. For everything that 
exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. But 
thou art thinking only of seeds which are cast into the earth 
or into a womb : but this is a very vulgar notion. 

37. Thou wilt soon die, and thou art not yet simple, nor 
free from perturbations, nor without suspicion of being hurt 
by external things, nor kindly disposed towards all ; nor dost 
thou yet place wisdom only in acting justly. 

38. Examine m.en's ruling principles, even those of the 
wise, what kind of things they avoid, and what kind they 

39. What is evil to thee does not subsist In the ruling prin- 
ciple of another ; nor yet in any turning and mutation of thy 
corporeal covering. Where is it then? It is in that part of 
thee in which subsists the power of forming opinions about 
evils. Let this power then not form [such] opinions, and all 
is well. And if that which is nearest to it, the poor body, is 
cut, burnt, filled with matter and rottenness, nevertheless let 
the part which forms opinions about these things be quiet, 
that is, let it judge that nothing is either bad or good which 
can happen equally to the bad man and the good. Foe 


that wliich happens equally to him who lives contrary to 
nature and to him who lives according to nature, is neither 
according to nature nor contrary to nature. 

40. Constantly regard the universe as one living being, 
having one substance and one soul; and observe how all 
things have reference to one perception, the perception of this 
one living being; and how all things act with one movement; 
and how all things are the co-operating causes of all things 
which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the 
thread and the contexture of the vv^eb. 

41. Thou art a little soul bearing about a corpse, as Epic- 
tetus used to say (i. c. 19). 

42. It is no evil for things to undergo change, and no good 
for things to subsist in consequence of change. 

43. Time is like a river made up of the events which 
happen, and a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has 
been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, 
and this will be carried away too. 

44. Everything which happens is as familiar and well 
known as the rose in spring and the fruit in summer; for 
such is disease, and death, and calumny, and treachery, and 
whatever else delights fools or vexes them- 

45. In the series of things those which follow are always 
aptly fitted to those which have gone before ; for this series 
is not like a mere enumeration of disjointed things, which 
has only a necessary sequence, but it is a rational connection : 
and as all existing things are arranged together harmon- 
iously, so the things which come into existence exhibit no 
mere succession, but a certain wonderful relationship (vi. 38; 
vii. 9; vii. 75, note). 

46. Always remember the sayings of Heraclitus, that the 
death of earth is to become vv^ater, and the death of water 
is to becom.e air, and the death of air is to become fire, and 
reversely. And think too of him who forgets whither the 
way leads, and that men quarrel with that with which they 
are most constantly in communion, the reason v/hich governs 
the universe; and the things which they daily meet with 
seem to them strange: and consider that we ought not to 
act and speak as if we were asleep, for even in sleep we 
seem to act and speak; and that we ought not, like children 


who learn from their parents, simply to act and speak as we 
have been taught. 

47. If any god told thee that thou shalt die to-morrow, or 
certainly on the day after to-morrow, thou wouldst not care 
much whether it was on the third day or on the morrow, 
unless thou wast in the highest degree mean-spirited — for 
how small is the difference? — so think it no great thing to 
die after as many years as thou canst name rather than to- 

48. Think continually how many physicians are dead after 
often contracting their eyebrows over the sick ; and how many 
astrologers after predicting with great pretensions the deaths 
of others; and how many philosophers after endless dis- 
courses on death or immortality ; how many heroes after kill- 
ing thousands; and how many tyrants who have used their 
power over men's lives with terrible insolence as if they were 
immortal ; and how many cities are entirely dead, so to speak, 
Helice and Pompeii and Herculaneum, and others innumer- 
able. Add to the reckoning all whom thou hast known, one 
after another. One man after burying another has been 
laid out dead, and another buries him ; and all this in a short 
time. To conclude, always observe how ephemeral and 
worthless human things are, and what was yesterday a little 
mucus, to-morrow will be a mummy or ashes. Pass then 
through this little space of time conformably to nature, and 
end thy journey in content, just as an olive falls off when 
it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the 
tree on which it grew. 

49. Be like the promontory against v/hich the waves con- 
tinually break, but it stands firm and tames the fury of the 
water around it. 

Unhappy am I, because this has happened to me — Not, so, 
but Happy am I, though this has happened to me, because I 
continue free from pain, neither crushed by the present nor 
fearing the future. For such a thing as this might have hap- 
pened to every man ; but every man would not have continued 
free from pain on such an occasion. Why, then, is that 
rather a misfortune than this a good fortune? And dost 
thou in all cases call that a man's misfortune, v/hich is not a 
deviation from man's nature? And does a thing seem to 


thee to be a deviation from man's nature, when it is not con- 
trary to the will of man's nature? Well, thou knowest the 
will of nature. Will then this which has happened prevent 
thee from being just, magnanimous, temperate, prudent, se- 
cure against inconsiderate opinions and falsehood ; will it pre- 
vent thee from having modesty, freedom, and everything else, 
by the presence of which mean's nature obtains all that is its 
own? Remember, too, on every occasion which leads thee 
to vexation to apply this principle: not that this is a mis- 
fortune, but that to bear it nobly is good fortune. 

50. It is a vulgar but still a useful help towards contempt of 
death, to pass in review those who have tenaciously stuck 
to life. What more then have they gained than those who 
have died early? Certainly they lie in their tombs som.e- 
where at last, Cadicianus, Fabius, Julianus, Lepidus, or any 
one else like them, who have carried out many to be buried, 
and then were carried out themselves. Altogether the inter- 
val is small [between birth and death] ; and consider with 
how much trouble, and in company with what sort of people, 
and in what a feeble body this interval is laboriously passed. 
Do not then consider life a thing of any value. For look to 
the immensity of time behind thee, and to the tim.e which is 
before thee, another boundless space. In this infinity then 
what is the difference between him who lives three days and 
him who lives three generations? 

51. Always run to the short way; and the short way is the 
natural: accordingly say and do everything in conformity 
with the soundest reason. For such a purpose frees a man 
from trouble, and warfare, and all artifice and ostentatious 


IN THE morning when thou risest unwillingly, let this 
thought be present — I am rising to the work of a human 
being. Why then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the 
things for which I exist and for which I was brought into 
the world ? Or have I been made for this, to lie in the bed- 
clothes and keep myself warm? — But this is more pleasant 
—Dost thou exist then to take thy pleasure, and not at all for 


action or exertion? Dost thou not see the little plants, tHe 
little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together 
to put in order their several parts of the universe? And 
art thou unwilling to do the work of a human being, and 
dost thou not make haste to do that v/hich is according to 
thy nature? — But it is necessary to take rest also. — It is 
necessary : however nature has fixed bounds to this too : she 
has fixed bounds both to eating and drinking, and yet thou 
goest beyond these bounds, beyond what is sufficient; yet in 
thy acts it is not so, but thou stoppest short of what thou 
canst do. So thou lovest not thyself, for if thou didsf, thou 
wouldst love thy nature and her will. But those who love 
their several arts exhaust themselves in working at them un- 
washed and without food; but thou valuest thy own nature 
less than the turner values the turning art, or the dancer the 
dancing art, or the lover of money values his money, or the 
vainglorious man his little glory. And such men, when they 
have a violent affection to a thing, choose neither to eat nor 
to sleep rather than to perfect the things which they care 
for. But are the acts which concern society more vile in 
thy eyes and less worthy of thy labour? 

2. How easy it is to repel and to wipe away every impres- 
sion which is troublesome or unsuitable, and immediately to 
be in all tranquillity. 

3. Judge every word and deed which are according to na- 
ture to be fit for thee ; and be not diverted by the blame which 
follows from any people, nor by their words, but if a thing is 
good to be done or said, do not consider it unworthy of thee. 
For those persons have their peculiar leading principle and 
follow their peculiar movement ; which things do not thou re- 
gard, but go straight on, following thy own nature and the 
common nature; and the way of both is one. 

4. I go through the things which happen according to 
nature until I shall fall and rest, breathing out my breath 
into that element out of which I daily draw it in, and falling 
upon that earth out of which my father collected the seed, 
and my mother the blood, and my nurse the milk; out of 
which during so many 5'ears I have been supplied with food 
and drink; which bears me when I tread on it and abuse it 
for so many purposes. 


•5. Thou sayest, men cannot admire the sharpness of thy 
^its. — Be it so; but there are many other things of which 
thou canst not say, I am not formed for them by nature. 
Show those quahties then which are altogether in thy power : 
sincerity, gravity, endurance of labour, aversion to pleasure, 
contentment with thy portion and with few things, be- 
nevolence, frankness, no love of superfluity, freedom from 
trifling magnanimity. Dost thou not see how many qualities 
thou art immediately able to exhibit, in which there is no 
excuse of natural incapacity and unfitness, and yet thou still 
remainest voluntarily below the mark? or art thou compelled 
through being defectively furnished by nature to murmur, 
and to be stingy, and to flatter, and to find fault with thy poor 
body, and to try to please men, and to make great display, 
and to be restless in thy mind? No, by the gods: but thou 
mightest have been delivered from these things long ago. 
Only if in truth thou canst be charged with being rather slow 
and dull of comprehension, thou must exert thyself about 
this also, not neglecting it nor yet taking pleasure in thy 

6. One, when he has done a service to another, is 
ready to set it down to his account as a favour conferred. 
Another is not ready to do this, but still in his own mind he 
thinks of the man as his debtor, and he knows what he has 
done. A third in a manner does not even know what he has 
done, but he is like a vine which has produced grapes, and 
seeks for nothing more after it has once produced its proper 
fruit. As a horse when he has run, a dog v/hen he has tracked 
the game, a bee when it has made the honey, so a man 
when he has done a good act, does not call out for others 
to come and see, but he goes on to another act, as a vine goes 
on to produce again the grapes in season. — Must a man then 
be one of these, who in a manner act thus without observing 
it? — Yes. — But this very thing is necessary, the observation 
of what a man Is doing; for it may be said, it is characteristic 
of the social animal to perceive that he is working in a social 
manner, and indeed to wish that his social partner also should 
perceive it. — It is true what thou sayest, but thou dost not 
rightly understand what is now said; and for this reason 
thou wilt become one of those of whom I spoke before, for 

8 HC— Vol. 2 


even they are misled by a certain show of reason. But ii: 
thou wilt choose to understand the meaning of what is said, 
do not fear that for this reason thou wilt omit any social act. 

7. A prayer of the Athenians: Rain, rain, O dear Zeus, 
down on the plowed fields of the Athenians and on the plains. — 
In truth we ought not to pray at all, or we ought to pray in 
this simple and noble fashion. 

8. Just as we must understand when it is said, That ^scu- 
lapius prescribed to this man horse-exercise, or bathing in 
cold water, or going without shoes, so we must understand 
it when it is said, That the nature of the universe prescribed 
to this man disease or mutilation or loss or anything else 
of the kind. For in the first case prescribed means something 
like this : he prescribed this for this man as a thing adapted 
to procure health; and in the second case it means. That 
which happens to [or suits] every man is fixed in a manner 
for him suitably to his destiny. For this is what we mean 
when we say that things are suitable to us, as the workmen 
say of squared stones in walls or the pyramids, that they are 
suitable, vv^hen they fit them to one another in some kind of 
connection. For there is altogether one fitness [harmony]. 
And as the universe is made up out of all bodies to be such 
a body as it is, so out of all existing causes necessity [destiny] 
is made up to be such a cause as it is. And even those who 
are completely ignorant understand what I mean, for they 
say, It [necessity, destiny] brought this to such a person. 
— This, then, was brought and this was prescribed to him. 
Let us then receive these things, as well as those which TEscu- 
lapius prescribes. Many, as a matter of course, even among 
his prescriptions, are disagreeable, but v/e accept them in 
the hope of health. Let the perfecting and accomplishment 
of the things, which the common nature judges to be good, 
be judged by thee to be of the same kind as thy health. And 
so accept everything which happens, even if it seem dis- 
agreeable, because it leads to this, to the health of the 
universe and to the prosperity and felicity of Zeus [the 
universe] . For he would not have brought on any man what 
he has brought, if it were not useful for the whole. Neithef 
does the nature of anything, whatever it may be, cause 
anything which is not suitable to that which is directed by it 


For two reasons, theu, it is right to be content with that 
which happens to thee ; the one, because it was done for thee 
and prescribed for thee, and in a manner had reference to thee, 
originally from the most ancient causes spun with thy destiny ; 
and the other, because even that which comes severally to 
every man is to the power which administers the universe a 
cause of felicity and perfection, nay even of its very con- 
tinuance. For the integrity of the whole is mutilated, if 
thou cuttest oft anything whatever from the conjunction and 
the continuity either of the parts or of the causes. And thou 
dost cut off, as far as it is in thy power, when thou art 
dissatisfied, and in a manner triest to put anything out of the 

9. Be not disgusted, nor discouraged, nor dissatisfied, if 
thou dost not succeed in doing everything according to right 
principles ; but V\7hen thou hast failed, return back again, and 
be content if the greater part of what thou doest is con- 
sistent with man's nature, and love this to which thou re- 
turnest; and do not return to philosophy as if she were a 
master, but act like those who have sore eyes and apply a 
bit of sponge and egg, or as another applies a plaster, or 
drenching with water. For thus thou wilt not fail to obey 
reason and thou wilt repose in it. And remember that phi- 
losophy requires only the things which thy nature requires; 
but thou wouldst have something else which is not according 
to nature. It may be objected. Why, what is more agree- 
able than this [which I am doing] ? But is not this the very 
reason why pleasure deceives us? And consider if magna- 
nimity, freedom, simplicity, equanimity, piety are not more 
agreeable. For what is m.ore agreeable than wisdom itself, 
when thou thinkest of the security and the happy course of 
all things which depend on the faculty of understanding 
and knowledge? 

10. Things are in such a kind of envelopment that they 
have seemed to philosophers, not a few nor those common 
philosophers, altogether unintelligible ; nay even to the Stoics 
themselves they seem difficult to understand. And all our as- 
sent is changeable; for where is the man who never changes? 
Carry thy thoughts then to the objects themselves, and con- 
sider how short-lived they are and worthless, and that they 


may be in the possession of a filthy wretch or a whore or a 
robber. Then turn to the morals of those vdio live with 
thee, and it is hardly possible to endure even the most agree- 
able of them, to say nothing of a man being hardly able to 
endure himself. In such darkness then, and dirt, and in so 
constant a flux, both of substance and of time, and of m.otion, 
and of things moved, what there is worth being highly prized, 
or even an object of serious pursuit, I cannot imagine. But 
on the contrary it is a man's duty to comfort himself, and 
to wait for the natural dissolution and not to be vexed at 
the delay, but to rest in these principles only: the one, that 
nothing will happen to me which is not conformable to the 
nature of the universe ; and the other, that it is in my power 
never to act contrary to my god and daemon: for there is 
no man who will compel me to this. 

11. About what am I now employing my own soul? On 
every occasion I must ask myself this question, and inquire, 
what have I now in this part of me which they call the ruling 
principle? and whose soul have I now? that of a child, or 
of a young man^ or of a feeble woman, or of a tyrant, or of 
a domestic animal, or of a wild beast 

12. What kind of things those are which appear good to the 
many, we may learn even from this. For if any man should 
conceive certain things as being really good, such as pru- 
dence, temperance, justice, fortitude, he would not after hav- 
ing first conceived these endure to listen to anything which 
should not be in harmony with what is really good. But 
if a man has first conceived as good the things which appear 
to the many to be good, he will listen and readily receive as 
very applicable that which v^^as said by the comic writer. 
Thus even the many perceive the difference. For were it 
not so, this saying would not offend and would not be re- 
jected [in the first case], while we receive it when it is said 
of wealth, and of the means which further luxury and fame, 
as said fitly and wittily. Go on then and ask if we should 
value and think those things to be good, to which after their 
first conception in the mind the words of the comic writer 
might be aptly applied — that he who has them, through pure 
abundance has not a place to ease himself in. 

13. I am composed of the formal and the material; and 


neither of them will perish into non-existence, as neither of 
them came into existence out of non-existence. Every part 
of me then will be reduced by change into some part of the 
universe, and that again will change into another part of the 
universe, and so on forever. And by consequence of such a 
change I too exist, and those who begot me, and so on forever 
in the other direction. For nothing hinders us from saying 
so, even if the universe is administered according to definite 
periods [of revolution]. 

14. Reason and the reasoning art [philosophy] are powers 
which are sufficient for themselves and for their own works. 
They move then from a first principle which is their own, and 
they make their way to the end which is proposed to them; 
and this is the reason why such acts are named Catorthoseis 
or right acts, which word signifies that they proceed by the 
right road. 

15. None of these things ought to be called a mean's which 
do not belong to a man, as man. They are not required ol 
a man, nor does man's nature promise them, nor are they the 
means of man's nature attaining its end. Neither then does 
the end of man lie in these things, nor yet that which aids 
to the accomplishment of this end, and that which aids 
tow^ard this end is that which is good. Besides, if any of these 
things did belong to man, it would not be right for a man 
to despise them and to set himself against them; nor would 
a man be worthy of praise who showed that he did not want 
these things, nor would he who stinted himself in any of them 
be good, if indeed these things were good. But now the 
m.ore of these things a man deprives himself of, or of other 
things like them, or even when he is deprived of any of them, 
the more patiently he endures the loss, just in the same de- 
gree he is a better man. 

16. Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will he the 
character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. 
Dye it then with a continuous series of such thoughts as 
these: for instance, that where a man can live, there he can 
also live well. But he must live in a palace — well then, he 
can also live well in a palace. And again, consider that for 
whatever purpose each thing has been constituted, for this 
it has been constituted, and toward this it is carried ; and its 


end is in that toward which it is carried ; and where the end 
is, there also is the advantage and the good of each thing. 
Now the good for the reasonable animal is society; for that 
w^e are made for society has been shown above. Is it not 
plain that the inferior exist for the sake of the superior? 
but the things which have life are superior to those which 
have not life, and of those which have life the superior are 
those which have reason. 

17. To seek what is impossible is madness: and it is im- 
possible that the bad should not do something of this kind. 

18. Nothing happens to any m^an which he is not formed 
by nature to bear. The same things happen to another, and 
either because he does not see that they have happened or 
because he v/ould show a great spirit he is firm and remains 
unharm^ed. ,It is a shame then that ignorance and conceit 
should be stronger than vv^isdom. 

19. Things themselves touch not the soul, not in the least 
degree; nor have they admission to the soul, nor can they 
turn or move the soul: but the soul turns and moves itself 
alone, and whatever judgm.ents it may think proper to make, 
such it makes for itself the things which present themselves 
to it. 

20. In one respect man is the nearest thing to me, so far 
as I must do good to men and endure them. But so far as 
some men make themselves obstacles to my proper acts, 
man becomes to me one of the things which are indifferent, 
no less than the sun or wind or a wild beast. Now it is true 
that these may impede my action, but they are no impedi- 
ments to my affects and disposition, which have the power 
of acting conditionally and changing: for the mind converts 
and changes every hindrance to its activity into an aid ; and so 
that which is a hindrance is made a furtherance to an act ; and 
that which is an obstacle on the road helps us on this road. 

21. Reverence that which is best in the universe; and this 
is that which makes use of all things and directs all things. 
And in like manner also reverence that which is best in thy- 
self; and this of the same kind as that. For in thyself also, 
that which makes use of everything else, is this, and thy life 
is directed by this. 

22. That which does no harm to the state, does no harm to 


the citizen. In the case of every appearance of harm apply this 
rule : if the state is not harmed by this, neither am I harmed. 
But if the state is harmed, thou must not be angry with him 
who does harm to the state. Show him where his error is. 

23. Often think of the rapidity with which things pass by 
and disappear, both the things which are and the things 
which are produced. For substance is like a river in a con- 
tinual flow, and the activities of things are in constant 
change, and the causes work in infinite varieties ; and there 
is hardly anything which stands still. And consider this 
which is near to thee, this boundless abyss of the past and 
of the future in which all things disappear. How then is 
he not a fool who is puffed up with such things or plagued 
about them or makes himself miserable? for they vex him 
only for a time, and a short time. 

24. Think of the universal substance, of which thou hast 
a very small portion ; and of universal time, of which a short 
and indivisible interval has been assigned to thee ; and of that 
which is fixed by destin}'', and how small a part of it thou art. 

25. Does another do me wrong? Let him look to it. He 
has his own disposition^ his own activity. I now have what 
the universal nature wills me to have; and I do what my 
nature now wills me to do. 

26. Let the part of thy soul which leads and governs be 
undisturbed by the movements in the flesh, v\^hether of 
pleasure or of pain; and let it not unite with them, but let 
it circumscribe itself and limit those affects to their parts. 
But when these affects rise up to the mind by virtue of that 
other sympathy that naturally exists in a body which is all 
one, then thou must not strive to resist the sensation, for 
it is natural : but let not the ruling part of itself add to the 
sensation the opinion that it is either good or bad. 

27. Live with the gods. And he does live with the gods 
who constantly shows to them that his own soul is satisfied 
with that which is assigned to him, and that it does all that 
the daemion wishes, which Zeus hath given to every man for 
his guardian and guide, a portion of himself. And this is 
every man's understanding and reason. 

28. Art thou angry with him whose arm-pits stink? art 
thou angry with him whose mouth smells foul ? What good 


will this anger do thee ? He has such a mouth, he has such 
arm-pits: it is necessary that such an emanation must come 
from such things — but the man has reason, it will be said, 
and he is able, if he takes pains, to discover wherein he 
offends — I wish thee well of thy discovery. Well, then, and 
thou hast reason : by thy rational faculty stir up his rational 
faculty ; show him. his error, admonish him. For if he listens, 
thou wilt cure him, and there is no need of anger. [Neither 
tragic actor nor whore.^ ] 

29. As thou intendest to live when thou are gone out, . . . 
so it is in thy power to live here. But if men do not permit 
thee, then get away out of life, yet so as if thou wert suffer- 
ing no harm. The house is smoky, and I quit it. Why dost 
thou think that this is any trouble? But so long as nothing 
of the kind drives me out, I remain, am free, and no man 
shall hinder me from doing what I choose; and I choose 
to do what is according to the nature of the rational and 
social anim-al. 

30. The intelligence of the universe is social. Accordingly 
it has made the inferior things for the sake of the superior, 
and it has fitted the superior to one another. Thou seest 
how it has subordinated, co-ordinated and assigned to every- 
thing its proper portion, and has brought together into con- 
cord with one another the things which are the best. 

31. How hast thou behaved hitherto to the gods, thy 
parents, brethren, children, teachers, to those who looked 
after thy infancy, to thy friends, kinsfolk, to thy slaves? 
Consider if thou hast hitherto behaved to all in such a way 
that this may be said of thee : 

Never has wronged a man in deed or word. 

And call to recollection both how many things thou hast 
passed through, and how many things thou hast been able 
to endure: and that the history of thy life is nov/ complete, 
and thy service is ended: and how many beautiful things 
thou hast seen : and how many pleasures and pains thou hast 
despised; and how many things called honourable thou hast 
spurned; and to how many ill-minded folks thou hast shown 
a kind disposition. 

^ This sentence is imperfect or corrupt, or both. 


32. Why do unskilled and ignorant souls disturb him who 
has skill and knowledge? What soul then has skill and 
knowledge? That which knows beginning and end, and 
knows the reason which pervades all substance and through 
all time by fixed periods [revolutions] administers the uni- 

33. Soon, very soon, thou wilt be ashes, or a skeleton, 
and either a name or not even a name; but name is sound 
and echo, and the things which are much valued in life are 
empty and rotten and trifling, and [like] little dogs biting 
one another, and little children quarrelling, laughing, and 
then straightv/ay weeping. But fidelity and modesty and jus- 
tice and truth are fled 

Up to Olympus from the wide-spread earth. 

Hesiod, Works, etc., v. 197. 

What then is there which still detains thee here? if 
the objects of sense are easily changed and never stand still, 
and the organs of perception are dull and easily receive false 
impressions; and the poor soul itself is an exhalation from 
blood. But to have good repute amid such a world as this 
is an empty thing. Why then dost thou not wait in tran- 
quillity for thy end, whether it is extinction or removal to 
another state? And until that time comes, what is sufficient? 
Why, what else than to venerate the gods and bless them, 
and to do good to men, and to practice tolerance and self- 
restraint; but as to everything which is beyond the limits 
of the poor flesh and breath, to remember that this is neither 
thine nor in thy power. 

34. Thou canst pass thy life in an equable flow of happi- 
ness, if thou canst go by the right way, and think and act in 
the right way. These two things are common both to the 
soul of God and to the soul of man, and to the soul of every 
rational being, not to be hindered by another; and to hold 
good to consist in the disposition to justice and the practice 
of it, and in this to let thy desire find its termination. 

35. If this is neither my own badness, nor an effect of my 
own badness, and the common weal is not injured, why am 
I troubled about it? and what is the harm to the common 
weal ? ^ 

36. Do not be carried along inconsiderately by the appear- 


ance of things, but give help [to all] according to thy ability 
and their fitness; and if they should have sustained loss in 
matters wl^ch are indifferent, do not imagine this to be a 
damage. For it is a bad habit. But as the old man, when 
he went away, asked back his foster-child's top, remember- 
ing that it was a top, so do thou in this case also. 

When thou art calling out on the Rostra, hast thou for- 
gotten, man, what these things are? Yes; but they are 
objects of great concern to these people- — wilt thou too then 
be made a fool for these things? I was once a fortunate 
man, but I lost it, I know not how. But fortunate means 
that a man has assigned to himself a good fortune; and a 
good fortune is good disposition of the soul, good emotions, 
good actions, 


f I "^HE substance of the universe is obedient and complin 
ant; and the reason which governs it has in itself 
no cause for doing evil, for it has no malice, nor does 
it do evil to anything, nor is anything harmed by it. But 
all things are made and perfected according to this reason. 

2. Let it make no difference to thee whether thou art cold 
or warm, if thou art doing thy duty; and whether thou art 
drowsy or satisfied with sleep; and whether ill-spoken of 
or praised ; and whether dying or doing something else. For 
it is one of the acts of this life, this act by which we 
die; it is sufficient then in this act also to do well what we 
have in hand (vi. 22, 28). 

3. Look within. Let neither the peculiar quality of any- 
thing nor its value escape thee. 

4. All existing things soon change, and they will either 
be reduced to vapor, if indeed all substance is one, or they 
will be dispersed. 

5. The reason which governs knows what its own dis- 
position is, and what it does, and on what material it works. 

6. The best way of avenging thyself is not to become like 
[the wrong doer]. 

7. Take pleasure in one thing and rest in it, in passing 
from one social act to another social act, thinking of God. 


8. The ruling principle is that which rouses and turns 
itself, and while it makes itself such as it is and such as 
it wills to be, it also makes everything which happens appear 
to itself to be such as it wills. 

9. In conformity to the nature of the universe every single 
thing is accomplished, for certainly it is not in conformity 
to any other nature that each thing is accomplished, either a 
nature which externally comprehends this, or a nature which 
is comprehended within this nature, or a nature external 
and independent of this (xi. i, vi. 40, viii. 50). 

10. The universe is either a confusion, and a mutual in- 
volution of things, and a dispersion ; or it is unity and order 
and providence. If then it is the former, why do I desire 
to tarry in a fortuitous combination of things and such a 
disorder? and why do I care about anything else than how 
I shall at last become earth? and why am I disturbed, for 
the dispersion of my elements will happen whatever I do. 
But if the other supposition is true, I venerate, and I am 
firm, and I trust in him who governs (iv. 27). 

11. When thou hast been compelled by circumstances to 
be disturbed in a manner, quickly return to thyself and do 
not continue out of tune longer than the com.pulsion lasts; 
for thou wilt have more mastery over the harmony by con- 
tinually recurring to it. 

12. If thou hast a step-mother and a mother at the same 
time, thou wouldst be dutiful to thy step-mother, but still 
thou w^ouldst constantly return to thy mother. Lei: the 
court and philosophy now be to thee step-mother and mother ; 
return to philosophy frequently and repose in her, through 
whom what thou meetest with in the court appears to thee 
tolerable, and thou appearest tolerable in the court. 

13. When we have meat before us and such eatables, we 
receive the impression, that this is the dead body of a fish, 
and this is the dead body of a bird or of a pig; and again, 
that this Falernian is only a little grape juice, and this 
purple robe some sheep's wool dyed with the blood of a 
shell-fish; such then are these impressions, and they reach 
the things themselves and penetrate them, and so we see 
what kind of things they are. Just in the same way ought 
we to act aU through life, and where there are things which 


appear most worthy of our approbation, we ought to 
lay them bare and look at their worthlessness, and strip 
them of all the words by which they are exalted. For 
outward show is a wonderful perverter of the reason, 
and when thou art most sure that thou art employed 
about things worth thy pains, it is then that it cheats 
thee most. Consider then what Crates says of Xenocrates 

14. Most of the things which the multitude admire are 
referred to objects of the most general kind, those which 
are held together by cohesion or natural organization, such 
as stones, wood, fig-trees, vines, olives. But those which 
are admired by men, who are a little more reasonable, are 
referred to the things which are held together by a living 
principle, as flocks, herds. Those which are admired by men 
who are still more instructed are the things which are held 
together by a rational soul, not however a universal soul, 
but rational so far as it is a soul skilled in some art, or 
expert in some other v/ay, or simply rational so far as it 
possesses a number of slaves. But he who values a rational 
soul, a soul universal and fitted for political life, regards 
nothing else except this; and above all things he keeps his 
soul in a condition and in an activity conformable to reason 
and social life, and he co-operates to this end with those who 
are of the same kind as himself. 

15. Som.e things are hurrying into existence, and others 
are hurrying out of it ; and of that which is coming into ex- 
istence part is already extinguished. Motions and changes 
are continually renewing the world, just as the uninterrupted 
course of time is always renewing the infinite duration of 
ages. In this ilowing stream then, on which there is no 
abiding, v/hat is there of the things which hurry by on which 
a man would set a high price? It would be just as if a 
man should fall in love with one of the sparrows which ^y 
by, but it has already passed out of sight. Something of this 
kind is the very life of every man, like the exhalation of the 
blood and the respiration of the air. For such as it is to 
have once drawn in the air and to have given it back, which 
we do every moment, just the same is it with the whole 
respiratory power, which thou didst receive at thy birth 


yesterday and the day before, to give it back to the element 
from which thou didst first draw it. 

i6. Neither is transpiration, as in plants, a thing to be 
valued, nor respiration, as in domesticated animals and wild 
beasts, nor the receiving of impressions by the appearances 
of things, nor being moved by desires as puppets by strings, 
nor assembling in herds, nor being nourished by food; for 
this is just like the act of separating and parting with the 
useless part of our food. What then is worth being valued? 
To be received with clapping of hands ? No. Neither must we 
value the clapping of tongues, for the praise which comes from 
the many is a clapping of tongues. Suppose then that thou 
hast given up this worthless thing called fame, what remains 
that is worth valuing? This, in my opinion, to move thyself 
and to restrain thyself in conformity to thy proper constitu- 
tion, to which end both all employm^ents and arts lead. For 
every art aims at this, that the thing which has been made 
should be adapted to the work for which it has been made; 
and both the vine-planter who looks after the vine, and the 
horse-breaker, and he who trains the dog, seek this end. 
But the education and the teaching of youth aim at some- 
thing. In this then is the value of the education and the 
teaching. And if this is well, thou wilt not seek anything 
else. Wilt thou not cease to value many other things too? 
Then thou wilt be neither free, nor sufficient for thy own 
happiness, nor without passion. For of necessity thou must 
be envious, jealous, and suspicious of those who can take 
away those things, and plot against those who have that 
which is valued by thee. Of necessity a man must be alto- 
gether in a state of perturbation who wants any of these 
things; and besides, he must often fimd fault with the gods. 
But to reverence and honour thy own mind will make thee 
content with thyself, and in harmony with society, and in 
agreement with the gods, that is, praising all that they give 
and have ordered. 

17. Above, below, all around are the movements of the 
elements. But the motion of virtue is in none of these; it 
is something more divine, and advancing by a way hardly 
observed it goes happily on its road. 

18. How strangely men act. They will not praise those 


who are living at the same time and living with themselves ; 
but to be themselves praised by posterity, by those whom 
they have never seen or ever will see, this they set much 
value on. But this is very much the same as if thou shouldst 
be grieved because those who have lived before thee did not 
praise thee. 

19. If a thing is difficult to be accomplished by thyself, 
do not think that it is impossible for; but if anything 
is possible for and conformable to his nature, think 
that this can be attained by thyself too. 

20. In the gymnastic exercises suppose that a man has 
torn thee with his nails, and by dashing against thy head 
has inflicted a wound. Well, we neither show any signs of 
vexation, nor are we offended, nor do we suspect him after- 
ward as a treacherous fellow ; and yet we are on our guard 
against him, not however as an enemy, nor yet with suspicion, 
but we quietly get out of his way. Something like this let thy 
behaviour be in all the other parts of life; let us overlook 
many things in those who are like antagonists in the gym- 
nasium. For it is in our power, as I said, to get out of 
the way, and to have no suspicion nor hatred. 

21. If any man is able to convince me and show me that 
I do not think or act right, I will gladly change; for I seek 
the truth by which no man was ever injured. But he is in- 
jured who abides in his error and ignorance. 

22. I do my duty: other things trouble me not; for they 
are either things without life, or things without reason, or 
things that have rambled and know not the way. 

23. As to the animxals which have no reason, and generally 
all things and objects, do thou, since thou hast reason and 
they have none, make use of them with a generous and 
liberal spirit. But toward human beings, as they have 
reason, behave in a social spirit. And on all occasions call 
on the gods, and do not perplex thyself about the length 
of time in which thou shalt do this; for even three hours 
so spent are sufficient. 

24. Alexander the Macedonian and his groom by death 
were brought to the same state ; for either they were received 
among the same seminal principles of the universe, ©r they 
were alike dispersed among the atoms. 


25. Consider how many things in the same indivisible 
time take place in each of us, things which concern the body 
and things which concern the soul; and so thou wilt not 
wonder if many more things, or rather all things which come 
into existence in that which is the one and all, which we 
call Cosmos, exist in it at the same time. 

26. If any man should propose to thee the question, how 
the name Antoninus is written, wouldst thou with a straining 
of the voice utter each letter? What then if they grow 
angry, wilt thou be angry too? Wilt thou not go on with 
composure and number every letter? Just so then in this 
life also remember that every duty is made up of certain 
parts. These it is thy duty to observe and without being 
disturbed or showing anger toward those who are angry 
with thee to go on thy way and finish that which is set before 

2.y, How cruel it is not to allow men to strive after the 
things which appear to them to be suitable to their nature 
and profitable ! And yet in a manner thou dost not allow 
them to do this, when thou art vexed because they do wrong. 
For they are certainly moved toward things because they 
suppose them to be suitable to their nature and profitable 
to them. But it is not so. Teach them then, and show them 
without being angry. 

28. Death is a cessation of the impressions through the 
senses, and of the pulling of the strings which move the ap- 
petites, and of the discursive movements of the thoughts, 
and of the service to the flesh (ii. 12). 

29. It is a shame for the soul to be first to give way in this 
life, when thy body does not give way. 

30. Take care that thou art not made into a Caesar, 
that thou art not dyed with this dye; for such 
things happen. Keep thyself then simple, good, pure, 
serious, free from affectation, a friend of justice, a worshiper 
of the gods, kind, affectionate, strenuous in all proper acts. 
Strive to continue to be such as philosophy wished to make 
thee. Reverence the gods, and help men. Short is life. 
There is only one fruit of this terrene life, a pious disposition 
and social acts. Do everything as a disciple of Antoninus. 
Remember his constancy in every act .which was conformable 


to reason, and his evenness in all things, and his piety, and 
the serenity of his countenance, and his sweetness, and his 
disregard of empty fame, and his efforts to understand 
things; and how he would never let anything pass without 
having first most carefully examined it and clearly under- 
stood it; and how he bore with those who blamed him un- 
justly without blaming them in return; how he did nothing 
in a hurry; and how he listened not to calumnies, and how 
exact an examiner of manners and actions he was; and not 
given to reproach people, nor timid, nor suspicious, nor a 
sophist ; and with how little he was satisfied, such as lodging, 
bed, dress, food, servants; and how laborious and patient; 
and how he was able on account of his sparing diet to hold 
out to the evening, not even requiring to relieve himself by 
any evacuations except at the usual hour; and his firmness 
and uniformity in his friendships; and how he tolerated 
freedom of speech in those who opposed his opinions; 
and the pleasure that he had when any man showed him 
anything better; and how religious he was without 
superstition. Imitate all this that thou mayest have as 
good a conscience, when thy last hour comes, as he had 
(i. i6). 

31. Return to thy sober senses and call thyself back; and 
when thou hast roused thyself from sleep and hast perceived 
that they were only dreams which troubled thee, now in thy 
waking hours look at these [the things about thee] as thou 
didst look at those [the dreams]. 

32. I consist of a little body and a soul. Now to this little 
body all things are indifferent, for it is not able to perceive 
differences. But to the understanding those things only are 
indifferent, which are not the works of its own activity. But 
whatever things are the works of its own activity, all these 
are in its power. And of these however only those which 
are done with reference to the present; for as to the future 
and the past activities of the mind, even these are for the 
present indifferent. 

33. Neither the labor which the hand does nor that of 
the foot is contrary to nature, so long as the foot does the 
foot's work and the hand the hand's. So then neither to a 
man as a man is his labor contrary to nature, so long as it 


does the things of a man. But if the labor is not contrary 
to his nature, neither is it an evil to him. 

34. How many pleasures have been enjoyed by robbers, 
patricides, tyrants. 

35. Dost thou not see how the handicraftsmen accommo- 
date themselves up to a certain point to those who are not 
skilled in their craft — nevertheless they cling to the reason 
[the principles] of their art and do not endure to depart 
from it? Is it not strange if the architect and the physician 
shall have more respect to the reason [the principles] of 
their own arts than man to his own reason, which is common 
to him and the gods ? 

36. Asia, Europe are corners of the universe; all the sea 
a drop in the universe; Athos a little clod of the universe; 
all the present time is a point in eternity. All things are 
little, changeable, perishable. All things come from thence, 
from that universal ruling power either directly proceeding 
or by way of sequence. And accordingly the lion's gap- 
ing jaws, and that which is poisonous, and every harmful 
thing, as a thorn, as mud, are after-products of the grand 
and beautiful. Do not then imagine that they are of another 
kind from that which thou dost venerate, but form a just 
opinion of the source of all (vii. 75). 

37. He who has seen present things has seen all, both 
everything which has taken place from all eternity and every- 
thing v/hich will be for time without end; for all things are 
of one kin and of one form. 

38. Frequently consider the connection of all things in the 
universe and their relation to one another. . For in a manner 
all things are implicated with one another, . and all in this 
way are friendly to one another; for one thing comes in 
order after another, and this is by virtue of the active move- 
ment and mutual conspiration and the unity of the substance 
(ix. I). 

39. Adapt thyself to the things with which thy lot has 
been cast; and the men among whom thou hast received thy 
portion, love them, but do it truly [sincerely]. 

40. Bvery instrument, tool, vessel, if it does that for which 
it has been made, is well, and yet he Vi^ho made it is not 
there. But in the things which are held together by nature 


there is within and there abides in them the power which 
made them; wherefore the more is it fit to reverence this 
power, and to think, that, if thou dost live and act according 
to its will, everything in thee is in conformity to intelHgence. 
And thus also in the universe the things which belong to 
it are in conformity to intelligence. 

41. Whatever of the things which are not within thy power 
thou shalt suppose to be good for thee or evil, it must of 
necessity be that, if such a bad thing befall thee or the loss 
of such a good thing, thou wilt blame the gods, and hate men 
too, those who are the cause of the misfortune or the loss, or 
those who are suspected of being likely to be the cause; and 
indeed we do much injustice, because we make a difference 
between these things [because we do not regard these things 
as indifferent]. But if we judge only those things which 
are in our power to be good or bad, there remains no reason 
either for finding fault with God or standing in a hostile 
attitude to man. 

42. We are all working together to one end, some with 
knowledge and design, and others without knowing what 
they do; as men also when they are asleep, of whom it is 
Heraclitus, I think, who says that they are labourers and co- 
operators in the things which take place in the universe. 
But m.en co-operate after different fashions : and even those 
co-operate abundantly, who find fault with vdiat happens 
and those who try to oppose it and to hinder it; for the 
universe had need even of such men as these. It remains 
then for thee to understand among what kind of workmen 
thou placest thyself; for he w'ho rules all things will cer- 
tainly make a right use of thee, and he w^ill receive thee 
among some part of the co-operators and of those whose 
labours conduce to one end. But be not thou such a part 
as the mean and ridiculous verse in the play, which Chrysip- 
pus speaks of. 

43. Does the sun undertake to do the work of the rain, 
or ^sculapius the work of the Fruit-bearer [the earth] ? 
And how is it with respect to each of the stars, are they not 
different, and yet they work together to the same end? 

44. If the gods have determined about me and about the 
things which must happen to me, they have determined well. 


for it is not easy even to imagine a deity without fore- 
thought; and as to doing me harm, why should they have 
any desire towards that? for what advantage would result 
to them from this or to the whole, which is the special object 
of their providence ? But if they have not determined about 
me individually, they have certainly determined about the 
whole at least, and the things which happen by way of 
sequence in this general arrangement I ought to accept with 
pleasure and to be content with them. But if they determine 
about nothing — which it is wicked to believe, or if we do 
believe it, let us neither sacrifice nor pray nor sv/ear by 
them, nor do anything else which we do as if the gods were 
present and lived with us — but if however the gods deter- 
mine about none of the things which concern us, I am able 
to determine about myself, and I can inquire about that 
which is useful; and that is useful to every man which is 
conformable to his ov/n constitution and nature. But my 
nature is rational and social; and my city and country, so 
far as I am Antoninus, is Rome, but so far as I am a man, 
it is the world. The things then which are useful to these 
cities are alone useful to me. 

45. Whatever happens to every man, this is for the in- 
terest of the universal ; this might be sufficient. But further 
thou wilt observe this also as a general truth, if thou dost 
observe, that whatever is profitable to any man is profitable 
also to other m.en. But let the word profitable be taken here 
in the common sense as said of things of the middle kind 
[neither good nor bad]. 

46. As it happens to thee in the amphitheatre and such 
places, that the continual sight of the same things and the 
uniformity make the spectacle wearisome, so it is in the 
whole of life; for all things above, below, are the same and 
from the same. How long then ? 

47. Think continually that all kinds of men and of all 
kinds of pursuits and of all nations are dead, so that thy 
thoughts come down even to Philistion and Phoebus and 
Origanion. Now turn thy thoughts to the other kinds [of 
men}. To that place then we must rem.ove, where there 
are so many great orators, and so many noble philosophers, 
Heraclitus, Pythagoras^ Socrates; so many heroes of for- 


mer days, and so many generals after them, and tyrants; 
besides these, Eudoxus, Hipparchus, Archimedes, and other 
men of acute natural talents, great minds, lovers of labor, 
versatile, confident, mockers even of the perishable and 
ephemeral life of man, as Menippus and such as are like 
him. As to all these consider that they have long been in 
the dust What harm then is this to them; and what to 
those whose names are altogether unknown? One thing 
here is worth a great deal, to pass thy life in truth and 
justice, with a benevolent disposition even to liars and un- 
just men. 

48. When thou wishest to delight thyself, think of the 
virtues of those who live with thee ; for instance, the activity 
of one, and the modesty of another, and the liberality of a 
third, and some other good quality of a fourth. For nothing 
delights so much as the examples of the virtues, when they 
are exhibited in the morals of those who live with us and 
present themselves in abundance, as far as is possible. 
Wherefore we must keep them before us. 

49. Thou art not dissatisfied, I suppose, because thou 
weighest only so many litre and not three hundred. Be 
not dissatisfied then that thou must live only so many years 
and not more; for as thou art satisfied with the amount of 
substance which has been assigned to thee, so be content 
with the time. 

50. Let us try to persuade them [men]. But act even 
against their will, when the principles of justice lead that 
way. If, however, any man by using force stands in thy 
,way, betake thyself to contentment and tranquillity, and at 
the same time employ the hindrance toward the exercise 
of some other virtue; and remember that thy attempt was 
with a reservation [conditionally], that thou didst not desire 
to do impossibilities. What then didst thou desire? Some 
such effort as this. But thou attainest thy object, if the 
things to which thou wast moved are [not] accomplished. 

51. He who loves fame considers another man'ii activity 
to be his own good ; and he who loves pleasure, his own sen- 
sations ; but he who has understanding, considers his own 
acts to be his own good. 

^2. It is in our power to have no opinion about a thing. 


and not to be disturbed in our soul, for things themselves 
have no natural power to form our judgments. 

53. Accustom thyself to attend carefully to what is said 
by another, and as much as it is possible, be in the speaker's 

54. That which is not good for the swarm, neither is it 
good for the bee. 

55. If sailors abused the helmsman or the sick the doctor, 
would they listen to anybody else; or how could the helms- 
man secure the safety of those in the ship or the doctor the 
health of those whom he attends? 

56. How many together with whom I came into the world 
are already gone out of it. 

57. To the jaundiced honey tastes bitter, and to those 
bitten by mad dogs water causes fear; and to little children 
the ball is a fine thing. Why then am I angry? Dost thou 
think that a false opinion has less power than the bile in 
the jaundiced or the poison in him who is bitten by a mad 

58. No man will hinder thee from living according to the 
reason of thy own nature : nothing will happen to thee con- 
trary to the reason of the universal nature. 

59. What kind of people are those whom men wish to 
please, and for what objects, and by what kind of acts? 
How soon will time cover all things, and how many it has 
covered already, 


HAT is badness? It is that which thou hast often 
seen. And on the occasion of everything which hap- 
pens keep this in mind, that it is that which thou 
hast often seen. Everywhere up and down thou wilt find the 
same things, with which the old histories are filled, those 
of the middle ages and those of our own day; with whicH 
cities and houses are filled now. There is nothing new; 
all things are both familiar and short-lived. 

2. How can our principles become dead, unless the im- 
pressions [thoughts] which correspond to them are extin- 
guished? But it is in thy power continuously to fan these 


thoughts into a flame. I can have that opinion about any- 
thing, which I ought to have. If I can, why am I disturbed? 
The things which are external to my mind have no relation 
at all to my mind. Let this be the state of thy affects, and 
thou standest erect. To recover thy life is in thy power. 
Look at things again as thou didst use to look at them; for 
in this consists the recovery of thy life. 

3. The idle business of show, plays on the stage, flocks of 
sheep, herds, exercises with spears, a bone to cast to little dogs, 
a bit of bread into fish-ponds, laborings of ants and burden- 
carrying, runnings about of frightened little mice, puppets 
pulled by strings — [all alike]. It is thy duty then in the midst 
of such things to show good humour and not a proud air; to 
understand, however, that every is worth just so much 
as the things are worth about which he busies himself. 

4. In discourse thou must attend to what is said, and in 
every movem.ent thou must observe what is doing. And in 
the one thou shouldst see immediately to Vv^hat end it refers, 
but in the other watch carefully what is the thing signified. 

5. Is my understanding sufficient for this or not? If it is 
sufficient I use it for the work as an instrument given by 
the universal nature. But if it is not sufficient, then either I 
retire from the work and give way to him who is able to do 
it better, unless there be some reason why I ought not to do 
so ; or I do it as well as I can, taking to help me the man who 
with the aid of my ruling principle can do what is now fit 
and useful for the general good. For whatsoever either by 
myself or with another I can do, ought to be directed to this 
only, to that which is useful and well-suited to society. 

6. How many after being celebrated by fame have been 
given up to oblivion ; and how many who have celebrated the 
fame of others have long been dead. 

7. Be not ashamed to be helped; for it is thy business to 
do thy duty like a soldier in the assault on a town. How 
then, if being lame thou canst not mount up on the battle- 
ments alone, but with the help of another it is possible? 

8. Let not future things disturb thee, for thou wilt come 
to them, if it shall be necessary, having with thee the same 
reason which now thou usest for present things. 

9. All things are implicated with one another, and the 


bond is holy ; and there is hardly anything unconnected with 
any other thing. For things have been co-ordinated, and 
they combine to form the same universe [order]. For there 
in one universe made up of all things, and one god who 
pervades all things, and one substance, and one law, [one] 
common reason in all intelligent animals, and one truth; if 
indeed there is also one perfection for all animals which are 
of the same stock and participate in the same reason. 

10. Everything material soon disappears in the substance 
of the whole; and everything formal [causal] is very soon 
taken back into the universal reason; and the memory of 
everything is very soon overwhelmed in time. 

11. To the rational animal the same act is according to 
nature and according to reason. 

12. Be thou erect, or be made erect (iii. 5). 

13. Just as it is with the members in those bodies which 
are united in one, so it is with rational beings which exist 
separate, for they have been constituted for one co-operation. 
And the perception of this will be more apparent to thee, 
if thou often sayest to thyself that I am a member [/xe/lo?] 
of the system of rational beings. But if [using the letter r] 
thou sayest that thou art a part [/af/909], thou dost not yet 
love men from thy heart ; beneficence does not yet delight thee 
for its own sake ; thou still doest it barely as a thing of pro- 
priety, and not yet as doing good to thyself. 

14. Let there fall externally what will on the parts which 
can feel the effects of this fail. For those parts which have 
felt will complain, if they choose. But I, unless I think 
that what has happened is an evil, am not injured. And it 
is in my povv^er not to think so. 

15. Whatever any one does or says, I m.ust be good, just 
as if the gold, or the emerald, or the purple were always say- 
ing this. Whatever any one does or says, I must be emerald 
and keep my color. 

16. The ruling faculty does not disturb itself; I mean, 
does not frighten itself or cause itself pain. But if any one 
else can frighten or pain it, let him do so. For the faculty 
itself will not by its own opinion turn into such ways. Let 
the body itself take care, if it can, that it suffer nothing, and 
let it speak, if it suffers. But the soul itself, that which is 


subject to fear, to pain, which has completely the power of 
forming an opinion about these things, will suffer nothing, 
for it will never deviate into such a judgment. The leading 
principle in itself v/ants nothing, unless it makes a want 
for itself; and therefore it is both free from perturbation and 
unimpeded, if it does not disturb and impede itself. 

17. Eudaemonia [happiness] is a good daemon, or a good 
thing. What then art thou doing here, O imagination? go 
away, I entreat thee by the gods, as thou didst come, for 
I want thee not. But thou art come according to thy old 
fashion. I am. not angry with thee; only go away. 

18. Is any man afraid of change? Why what can take 
place without change ? What then is more pleasing or more 
suitable to the universal nature ? And canst thou take a bath 
unless the wood undergoes a change? And canst thou be 
nourished, unless the food undergoes a change? And can 
anything else that is useful be accomplished without change? 
Dost thou not see then that for thyself also to change is just 
the same, and equally necessary for the universal nature? 

19. Through the universal substance as through a furious 
torrent all bodies are carried, being by their nature united 
with and co-operating with the whole, as the parts of our 
body with one another. How many a Chrysippus, how many 
a Socrates, how many an Epictetus has time already swal- 
lowed up ? And let the same thought occur to thee with ref- 
erence to every man and thing (v. 23; vi. 15). 

20. One thing only troubles me, lest I should do something 
which the constitution of man does not allow, or in the 
way which it does not allow, or what it does not allow now. 

21. Near is thy forgetfulness of all things; and near the 
forgetfulness of thee by all. 

22. It is peculiar to man to love even those who do wrong. 
And this happens, if when they do wrong it occurs to thee 
that they are kinsmen, and that they do wrong through igno- 
rance and unintentionally, and that soon both of you will die ; 
and above all, that the wrong-doer has done thee no harm, 
for he has not made thy ruling faculty worse than it was 

23. The universal nature out of the universal substance, 
as if it were v/ax, now moulds a horse, and when it has broken 


this up, it uses the material for a tree, then for a man, then 
for something else; and each of these things subsists for a 
very short time. But it is no hardship for the vessel to be 
broken up, just as there was none in its being fastened to- 
gether (viii. 50). 

24. A scov/ling look is altogether unnatural; v/hen it is 
often assumed, the result is that all comeliness dies away, 
and at last is so completely extinguished that it cannot be 
again lighted up at all. Try to conclude from this very fact 
that it is contrary to reason. For if even the perception of 
doing wrong shall depart, what reason is there for living 
any longer? 

25. Nature which governs the whole will soon change 
all things which thou seest, and out of their substance will 
make other things, and again other things from the 
substance of them, in order that the world may be ever 
new (xii. 23). 

26. When a man has done thee any wrong, immediately 
consider with what opinion about good or evil he has done 
wrong. For when thou hast seen this, thou wilt pity him, and 
wilt neither wonder nor be angry. For either thou thyself 
thinkest the same thing to be good that he does, or another 
thing of the same kind. It is thy duty then to pardon him. 
But if thou dost not think such things to be good or evil, 
thou wilt more readily be well disposed to him who is in 

27. Think not so much of what thou hast not as of what 
thou hast : but of the things which thou hast select the best, 
and then reflect how eagerly they would have been sought, if 
thou hadst them not. At the same time, however, take care 
that thou dost not through being so pleased with them ac- 
custom thyself to overvalue them, so as to be disturbed if 
ever thou shouldst not have them. 

28. Retire into thyself. The rational principlb which rules 
has this nature, that it is content with itself when it does 
what is just, and so secures tranquillity. 

29. Wipe out the imagination. Stop the pulling of the 
strings. Confine thyself to the present. Understand well 
what happens either to thee or to another. Divide and dis- 
tribute every object into the casual [formal] and the material. 


Think of thy last hour. Let the wrong which is done by a 
man stay there where the wrong was done (viii. 29). 

30. Direct thy attention to what is said. Let thy under- 
standing enter into the things that are doing and the 
things which do them (vii. 4). 

31. Adorn thyself with simplicity and modesty and with 
indifference towards the things which lie between virtue and 
vice. Love mankind. Follow God. The poet says that Law 
rules all. And it is enough to remember that law rules all.^ 

32. About death: whether it is a dispersion, or a reso- 
lution into atoms, or annihilation, it is either extinction or 

33. About pain: the pain which is intolerable carries us 
off; but that which lasts a long time is tolerable; and the 
mind maintains its own tranquillity by retiring into itself, 
and the ruling faculty is not made worse. But the parts 
which are harmed by pain, let them, if they can, give their 
opinion about it. 

34. About fame: look at the minds [of those who seek 
fame], observe what they are, and what kind of things they 
avoid, and what kind of things they pursue. A.nd consider 
that as the heaps of sand piled on one another hide the 
former sands, so in life the events which go before are soon 
covered by those which come after. 

35. From Plato: the man who lias an elevated mind an{ 
takes a view of all time and of all substance, dost thou sup< 
pose it possible for him to think that human life is anything 
great? It is not possible, he said. Such a man then will 
think that death also is no evil. Certainly not. 

36. From Antisthenes: It is royal to do good and to be 

37. It is a base thing for the countenance to be obedient 
and to regulate and compose itself as the mind comm.ands, 
and for the mind not to be regulated and composed by itself. 

38. It is not right to vex ourselves at things. 
For they care nought about it. 

39. To the immortal gods and us give joy. 

40. Life must be reaped like the ripe ears of corns; 
One man is born; another dies. 

^The end of this section is unintelligible. 


41. If gods care not for me and for my children, 

There is a reason for it. 
(42. For the good is with me, and the just. 
43- No joining others in their wailing, no violent emotion. 

44. From Plato : But I would make this man a sufficient 
answer, which is this: Thou sayest not well, if thou think- 
est that a man who is good for anything at all ought to com- 
pute the hazard of life or death, and should not rather look 
to this only in all that he does, whether he is doing what is 
just or unjust, and the works of a good or a bad man. 

45. For thus it is, men of Athens, in truth; wherever a 
man has placed himself thinking it the best place for him, 
or has been placed by a commander, there in my opinion he 
ought to stay and to abide the hazard, taking nothing into 
the reckoning, either death or anything else, before the base- 
ness [of deserting his post]. 

46. But, m.y good friend, reflect whether that which is 
noble and good is not som.ething different from saving and 
being saved; for as to a man living such or such a time, at 
least one who is really a man, consider if this is not a thing 
to be dismissed from the thoughts: and there must be no 
love of life : but as to these matters a man must intrust them 
to the deity and believe what the women say, that no man can 
escape his destiny, the next inquiry being how he may best 
live the time that he has to live. 

47. Look round at the courses of the stars, as if thou wert 
going along with them; and constantly consider the changes 
of the elements into one another; for such thoughts purge 
away the filth of the terrene life. 

48. This is a fine saying of Plato: That he who is dis- 
coursing about men should look also at earthly things as if 
he viewed them from some higher place; should look at 
them in their assemblies, armies, agricultural labours, mar- 
riages, treaties, births, deaths, noise of the courts of justice, 
desert places, various nations of barbarians, feasts, lamen- 
tations, markets, a mixture of all things and an orderly com- 
bination of contraries. 

49. Consider the past; such great changes of political su- 
premacies. Thou mayest foresee also the things which will be. 
'For they will certainly be of like form, and it is not possible 


that they should deviate from the order of the things which 
take place now: accordingly to have contemplated human 
life for forty years is the same as to have contemplated it 
for ten thousand years. For what m.ore wilt thou see? 

50. That which has grown from the earth to the earth. 
But that which has sprung from heavenly seed, 
Back to the heavenly realms returns. 

This is either a dissolution of the mutual involution of the 
atoms, or a similar dispersion of the unsentient elements. 

51. With food and drinks and cunning magic arts 
Turning the channel's course to 'scape from death. 

The breeze which heaven has sent 
We must endure, and toil without comxplaining. 

52. Another miay be more expert in casting his opponent; 
but he is not more social, nor more modest, nor better dis- 
ciplined to m.eet all that happens, nor more considerate with 
respect to the faults of his neighbours. 

53. Where any work can be done conformably to the 
reason which is common to gods and men, there we have 
nothing to fear ; for where we are able to get profit by means 
of the activity which is successful and proceeds according to 
our constitution, there no harm is to be suspected. 

54. Everywhere and at all times it is in thy power piously 
to acquiesce in thy present condition, and to behave justly to 
those who are about thee, and to exert thy skill upon thy 
present thoughts, that nothing shall steal into them without 
being well examined. 

55. Do not look around thee to discover other men's ruling 
principles, but look straight to this, to what nature leads thee, 
both the universal nature through the things which happen to 
thee, and thy own nature through the acts which must be 
done by thee. But every being ought to do that which is 
according to its constitution; and all other things have been 
constituted for the sake of rational beings, just as among ir- 
rational things the inferior for the sake of the superior, but 
the rational for the sake of one another. 

The prime principle then in man's constitution is the social. 
And the second is not to yield to the persuasions of the body, 
for it is the peculiar office of the rational ami intelligent 
motion to circumscribe itself, and never to be overpowered 


either by the motion of the senses or of the appetites, for 
both are animal ; but the intelligent motion claims superiority 
and does not permit itself to be overpowered by the others. 
And with good reason, for it is formed by nature to use all 
of them. The third thing in the rational constitution is 
freedom from error and from deception. Let then the ruling 
principle holding fast to these things go straight on, and it 
has what is its own. 

56. Consider thyself to be dead^ and to have completed thy 
life up to the present time ; and live according to nature the 
remainder which is allowed thee. 

57. Love that only which happens to thee and is spun with 
the thread of thy destiny. For what is more suitable? 

58. In everything which happens keep before thy eyes 
those to whom the same things happened, and how they were 
vexed, and treated them as strange things, and found fault 
with them ; and now where are they ? Nowhere. Why then 
dost thou too choose to act in the same way? and why dost 
thou not leave these agitations which are foreign to nature, 
to those who cause them and those who are m.oved by them? 
And why art thou not altogether intent upon the right 
way of making use of the things which happen to thee? 
for then thou wilt use them Vv^ell, and they will be a m.ate- 
rial for thee [to w^ork on]. Only attend to thyself, and 
resolve to be a good man in every act which thou doest; 
and remember. . . 

59. Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it 
will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig. 

60. The body ought to be compact, and to show no irreg- 
ularity either 'in motion or attitude. For what the mind 
shows in the face by maintaining in it the expression of in- 
telligence and propriety, that ought to be required also in the 
whole body. But all these things should be observed with- 
out affectation. 

61. The art of life is more like the wrestler's art than the 
dancer's, in respect of this, that it should stand ready and 
firm to meet onsets which are sudden and unexpected. 

62. Constantly observe who those are whose approbation 
thou wishest to have, and what ruling principles they possess. 
For then thou wilt neither blame those who offend invol- 


untarily, nor wilt thou want their approbation, if thou lookest 
to the sources of their opinions and appetites. 

63. Every soul, the philosopher says, is involuntarily de- 
prived of truth ; consequently in the same way it is deprived 
of justice and temperance and benevolence and everything 
of the kind. It is most necessary to bear this constantly in 
mind, for thus thou wilt be more gentle towards all. 

64. In every pain let this thought be present, that there 
is no dishonour in it, nor does it make the governing intelli- 
gence worse, for it does not damage the intelligence either 
so far as the intelligence is rational or so far as it is social. 
Indeed in the case of most pains let this remark of Epicurus 
aid thee, that pain is neither intolerable nor everlasting, if 
thou bearest in mind that it has its limits, and if thou 
addest nothing to it in imagination: and remember this too, 
that we do not perceive that many things which are disagree- 
able to us are the same as pain, such as excessive drowsiness, 
and the being scorched by heat, and the having no appetite. 
When then thou art discontented about any of these things, 
say to thyself, that thou art yielding to pain. 

65. Take care not to feel towards the inhuman, as they 
feel towards men. 

66. How do we know if Telauges was not superior in 
character to Socrates? for it is not enough that Socrates 
died a more noble death, and disputed more skilfully with 
the sophists, and passed the night in the cold with more 
endurance, and that when he was bid to arrest Leon of Sala- 
mis, he considered it more noble to refuse, and that he 
walked in a swaggering way in the streets — though as to 
this fact one may have great doubts if it was true. But we 
ought to inquire, what kind of a soul it was that Socrates 
possessed, and if he was able to be content with being just 
towards men and pious towards the gods, neither idly vexed 
on account of men's villainy, nor yet making himself a slave 
to any man's ignorance, nor receiving as strange anything 
that fell to his share out of the universal, nor enduring it as 
intolerable nor allowing his understanding to sympathise 
with the affects of the miserable flesh. 

6y. Nature has not so mingled [the intelligence] with the 
composition of the body, as not to have allowed thee the 


power of circumscribing thyself and of bringing under sub- 
jection to thyself ail that is thy own; for it is very possible 
to be a divine man and to be recognized as such by no one. 
Always bear this in mind; and another thing too, that very 
little indeed is necessary for living a happy life. And be- 
cause thou hast despaired of becoming a dialectician and 
skilled in the knowledge of nature, do not for this reason 
renounce the hope of being both free and modest and social 
and obedient to God. 

68. It is in thy power to live free from all compulsion in 
the greatest tranquillity of mind, even if all the world cry 
out against thee as much as they choose, and even if wild 
beasts tear in pieces the members of this kneaded miatter 
which has grown around thee. For what hinders the mind 
in the midst of all this from maintaining itself in tranquillity, 
and in a just judgment of all surrounding things, and in a 
ready use of the objects which are presented to it, so that 
the judgment may say to the thing which falls under its 
observation: This thou art in substance [reality], though 
in men's opinion thou mayest appear to be of a different 
kind ; and the use shall say to that which falls under the hand : 
Thou art the thing that I was seeking ; for to me that which 
presents itself is always a material for virtue, both rational 
and political, and, in a word, for the exercise of art, v/hich 
belongs to man or God. For everything v/hich happens has 
a relationship either to God or, and is neither new 
nor difficult to handle, but usual and apt matter to work on, 

69. The perfection of moral character consists in this, in 
passing every day as the last, and in being neither violently 
excited, nor torpid, nor playing the hypocrite. 

70. The gods who are immortal are not vexed because 
during so long a time they must tolerate continually men 
such as they are and so many of them bad ; and besides this, 
they also take care of them in all ways. But thou, who art 
destined to end so soon, art thou wearied of enduring the 
bad, and this too when thou art one of them? 

71. It is a ridiculous thing for a man not to fly from his 
own badness, which is indeed possible, but to fly from other 
men's badness, which is impossible. 

72. Whatever the rational and political [social] faculty 


finds to be neither intelligent nor social, it properly judges 
to be inferior to itself. 

"j^i. When thou hast done a good act and another has 
received it, why dost thou still look for a third thing be- 
sides these, as fools do, either to have the reputation of 
having done a good act or to obtain a return ? 

74. No man is tired of receiving what is useful. But it 
is useful to act according to nature. Do not then be tired 
of receiving what is useful by doing it to others. 

75. The nature of the All moved to make the universe. 
But nov7 either everything that takes place comes by 
way of consequence or [continuity] ; or even the chief 
things towards which the ruling power of the universe 
directs its own movement are governed by no rational 
principle. If this is remxembered it will make thee more 
tranquil in many things (vi. 44; ix. 28). 


HIS reflection also tends to the removal of the desire 

of empty fame, that it is no longer in thy power to 
have lived the whole of thy life, or at least thy life 
from thy youth upwards, like a philosopher ; but both to many 
others and to thyself it is plain that thou art far from philos- 
ophy. Thou hast fallen into disorder then, so that it is no 
longer easy for thee to get the reputation of a philosopher ; 
and thy plan of life also opposes it. If then thou hast truly 
seen where the matter lies, throw away the thought. How 
thou shalt seem [to others], and be content if thou shalt live 
the rest of thy life in such wise as thy nature wills. Observe 
then what it wills, and let nothing else distract thee; for 
thou hast had experience of many wanderings without hav- 
ing found happiness anywhere, not in syllogisms, nor in 
wealth, nor in reputation, nor in enjoyment, nor anywhere. 
Where is it then? In doing what man's nature requires. 
How then shall a man do this? If he has principles from 
which come his affects and his acts. What principles? 
Those which relate to good and bad: the belief that there 
is nothing good for man, which does not make him just, 


temperate, manly, free ; and that there is nothing bad, which 
does not do the contrary to what has been mentioned. 

2. On the occasion of every act ask thyself, How is this 
with respect to me? Shall I repent of it? A little time 
and I am dead, and all is gonCo What more do I seek, if 
what I am doing now is the work of an intelligent living 
being, and a social being, and one who is under the same law 
with God? 

3. Alexander and Cains and Pompeius, what are they in 
comparison with Diogenes and Heraclitus and Socrates? 
For they were acquainted with things, and their causes 
[forms], and their matter, and the ruling principles of these 
men were the same [or conformable to their pursuits]. But 
as to the others, how many things had they to care for, and 
to how many things were they slaves. 

4. [Consider] that men will do the same things never- 
theless, even though thou shouldst burst. 

5. This is the chief thing: Be not perturbed, for all things 
are according to the nature of the universal ; and in a little 
time thou wilt be nobody and nowhere, like Hadrianus and 
Augustus. In the next place having fixed thy eyes steadily 
on thy business look at it, and at the same time remembering 
that it is thy duty to be a good man, and what man's nature 
demands, do that without turning aside; and speak as it 
seems to thee most just, only let it be with a good disposi- 
tion and with modesty and without hypocrisy. 

6. The nature of the universal has this work to do, to 
remove to that place the things which are in this, to change 
them, to take them away hence, and to carry them there. All 
things are change, yet we need not fear anything new. All 
things are familiar [to us] ; but the distribution of them still 
remains the same. 

7. Every nature is contented with itself when it goes on 
its way well; and a rational nature goes on its way well, 
when in its thoughts it assents to nothing false or uncertain, 
and when it directs its movements to social acts only, and 
when it confines its desires and aversions to the things which 
are in its power, and when it is satisfied with everything 
that is assigned to it by the common nature. For of this 
common nature every particular nature is a part, as the 

9 HC— Vol. Z 


nature of the leaf is a part of the nature of the plant; ex- 
cept that in the plant the nature of the leaf is part of a 
nature which has not perception or reason, and is subject 
to be impeded; but the nature of man is part of a nature 
which is not subject to impediments, and is intelligent and 
just, since it gives to everything in equal portions and accord- 
ing to its worth, times, substance, cause [form], activity, and 
incident. But examine, not to discover that any one thing 
compared with any other single thing is equal in all respects, 
but by taking all the parts together of one thing and com- 
paring them v/ith all the parts together of another. 

8. Thou hast not leisure [or abihty] to read. But thou 
hast leisure [or ability] to check arrogance : thou hast leisure 
to be superior to pleasure and pain; thou hast leisure to 
be superior to love of fame, and not to be vexed at stupid 
and ungrateful people, nay even to care for them. 

9. Let no man any longer hear thee finding fault with the 
court life or with thy own (v. 16). 

10. Repentance is a kind of self-reproof for having neg- 
lected something useful; but that which is good must be 
something useful, and the perfect good man should look after 
it. But no such man would ever repent of having any sen- 
sual pleasure. Pleasure then is neither good nor useful. 

11. This thing, what is it in itself, in its own constitu- 
tion? What is its substance and material? And what its 
causal nature [or form] ? And what is it doing in the 
.world? And how long does it subsist? 

12. When thou risest from sleep with reluctance, remem- 
ber that it is according to thy constitution and according to 
human nature to perform social acts, but sleeping is common 
also to irrational animals. But that which is according to 
each individual's nature is also more peculiarly its own, and 
more suitable to its nature, and indeed, also more agreeable 
(v. 1). 

13. Constantly and, if it be possible, on the occasion of 
every impression on the soul, apply to it the principles of 
Physic, of Ethic, and of Dialectic. 

14. Whatever man thou meetest with, immediately say to 
thyself: What opinions has this man about good and bad? 
For if with respect to pleasure and pain and the causes of 


each', and with respect to fame and ignominy, death and life 
he has such and such opinions, it will seem nothing wonder- 
ful or strange to me, if he does such and such things; and 
I shall bear in mind that he is compelled to do so. 

15. Remember that as it is a shame to be surprised if the 
fig-tree produces figs, so it is to be surprised if the world 
produces such and such things of which it is productive; 
and for the physician and the helmsman it is a shame to be 
surprised, if a man has a fever, or if the wind is unfa- 

16. Remicmber that to change thy opinion and to follow 
him who corrects thy error is as consistent with freedom 
as it is to persist in thy error. For it is thy own, the activity 
which is exerted according to thy ov/n movement and judg- 
ment, and indeed according to thy own understanding too. 

17. If a thing is in thy own power, why dost thou do it? 
but if it is in the power of another, whom dost thou blame? 
the atoms [chance] or the gods? Both are foolish. Thorn 
must blame nobody. For if thou canst, correct [that which 
is the cause] ; but if thou canst not do this, correct at least 
the thing itself; but if thou canst not do even this, of what 
use is it to thee to find fault? for nothing should be done 
without a purpose. 

18. That which has died falls not out of the universe. If 
it stays here, it also changes here, and is dissolved into its 
proper parts, which are elements of the universe and of thy- 
self. And these too change, and they murmur not. 

19. Everything exists for some end, a horse, a vine. Why 
dost thou wonder? Even the sun will say, I am for some 
purpose, and the rest of the gods will say the same. For 
what purpose then art thou? to enjoy pleasure? See if 
common sense allows this. 

20. Nature has had regard in everything no less to the 
end than to the beginning and the continuance, just like the 
man who throws up a ball. What good is it then for the 
ball to be thrown up, or harm for it to come down, or even 
to have fallen? and what good is it to the bubble while 
it holds together, or v/nat harm when it is burst ? The same 
may be said of a light also. 

21. Turn it [the body] inside out, and see what kind of 


thing it is ; and when it has grown old, what kind of thing 
it becomes, and when it is diseased. 

Short lived are both the praiser and the praised, and the 
rememberer and the remembered: and all this in a nook of 
this part of the world; and not even here do all agree, no, 
not any one with himself : and the whole earth too is a point. 

22. Attend to the matter which is before thee, whether 
it is an opinion or an act or a word. 

Thou sufferest this justly: for thou choosest rather to 
become good to-morrow than to be good to-day. 

23. Am I doing anything? I do it with reference to the 
good of mankind. Does anything happen to me ? I receive 
it and refer it to the gods, and the source of all things, 
from which all that happens is derived. 

24. Such as bathing appears to thee — oil, sweat, dirt, filthy 
water, all things disgusting — so is every part of life and 

25. Lucilla saw Verus die, and then Lucilla died. Secunda 
saw Maximus die, and then Secunda died. Epitynchanus saw 
Diotimus die, and then Epitynchanus died. Antoninus saw 
Faustina die, and then Antoninus died. Such is everything. 
Celer saw Hadrianus die, and then Celer died. And those 
sharp-witted men, either seers or men inflated with pride, 
where are they? for instance, the sharp-witted men, Charax 
and Demetrius the Platonist and Eudsemon, and any one else 
like them. All ephemeral, dead long ago. Some indeed have 
not been remembered even for a short time, and others have 
become the heroes of fables, and again others have disap- 
peared even from fables. Remember this, then, that this little 
compound, thyself, must either be dissolved, or thy poor 
breath must be extinguished, or be removed and placed 

26. It is satisfaction to a man to do the proper works of 
a man. Now it is a proper work of a man to be benevolent 
to his own kind, to despise the movements of the senses, to 
form a just judgment of plausible appearances, and to take 
a survey of the nature of the universe and of the things 
which happen in it. 

27. There are three relations [between thee and other 
things]: the one to the body which surrounds thee; the 


second to the divine cause from which all things come to all ; 
and the third to those who live with thee, 

28. Pain is either an evil to the body — then let the body 
say what it thinks of it— or to the soul; but it is in the 
power of the soul to maintain its own serenity and tran- 
quillity, and not to think that pain is an evil. For every 
judgment and movement and desire and aversion is within, 
and no evil ascends so high. 

29. Wipe out thy imaginations by often saying to thyself: 
now it is in my power to let no badness be in this soul, nor 
desire, nor any perturbation at all; but looking at all things 
I see what is their nature, and I use each according to its 
value. — Remember this power which thou hast from nature. 

30. Speak both in the senate and to every man, whoever 
he may be, appropriately, not with any affectation: use 
plain discourse. 

31. Augustus' court, wife, daughter, descendants, an- 
cestors, sister, Agrippa, kinsmen, intimates, friends,, Areius, 
Mcecenas, physicians and sacrificing priests — the whole court 
is dead. Then turn to the rest, not considering the death of 
a single man, [but of a whole race], as of the Pompeii; 
and that which is inscribed on the tombs—the last of his 
race. Then consider what trouble those before them have 
had that they might leave a successor; and then, that of 
necessity some one must be the last. Again here consider 
the deatii of a whole race. 

32. It is thy duty to order thy life well in every single 
act; and if every act does its duty, as far as is possible, be 
content; and no one is able to hinder thee so that each act 
shall not do its duty. — But something external will stand in 
the way. — Nothing will stand in the way of thy acting 
justly and soberly and considerately, but perhaps some other 
active power will be hindered. Well, but by acquiescing in 
the hindrance and by being content to transfer thy efforts 
to that which is allowed, another opportunity of action is 
immediately put before thee in place of that which was 
hindered, and one which will adapt itself to this ordering 
of which we are speaking. 

33. Receive [wealth or prosperity] without arrogance | 
and be read^ to let it go. 


34. If thou didst ever see a hand cut off, or a foot, or a 
head, lying anyv/here apart from the rest of the body, such 
does a man make himself, as far as he can, who is not con- 
tent with what happens, and separates himself from others, 
or does anything unsocial. Suppose that thou hast detached 
thyself from the natural unit}^ — for thou wast made by 
nature a part, but now thou hast cut thyself off — ^yet here 
there is this beautiful provision, that it is in thy power again 
to unite thyself. God has allovv^ed this to no other part, after 
it has been separated and cut asunder, to come together 
again. But consider the kindness by which he has dis- 
tinguished man, for he has put it in his power not to be 
separated at all from the universal; and when he has been 
separated, he has allowed him to return and to be united 
and to resume his place as a part. 

35. As the nature of the universal has given to every 
rational being all the other powers that it has, so we have 
received from it this pov/er also. For as the universal 
nature converts and fixes in its predestined place everything 
which stands in the way and opposes it, and makes such 
things a part of itself, so also the rational animal is able to 
make every hindrance its own material, and to use it for 
such purposes as it may have designed. 

36. Do not disturb thyself by thinking of the whole of thy 
life. Let not thy thoughts at once embrace all the various 
troubles which thou mayest expect to befall thee: but on 
every occasion ask thyself. What is there in this which is 
intolerable and past bearing? for thou wilt be ashamed to 
confess. In the next place remember that neither the future 
nor the past pains thee, but only the present. But this is 
reduced to a very little, if thou only circumscribest it, and 
chidest thy m.ind, if it is unable to hold out against even this. 

37. Does Panthea or Pergamus now sit by the tomb o£ 
Verus? Does Chaurias or Diotimus sit by the tomb of 
Hadrianus? That would be ridiculous. Well, suppose they 
did sit there, would the dead be conscious of it? and if the 
dead were conscious, would they be pleased? and if they 
were pleased, would that make them immortal? Was it 
not in the order of destiny that these persons too should first 
become old women and old men and then die? What then 


would those do after these were dead ? All this is foul smell 
and blood in a bag. 

38. If thou canst see sharp, look and judge v/isely, says 
the philosopher. 

39. In the constitution of the rational animal I see no 
virtue which is opposed to justice; but I see a virtue which 
is opposed to love of pleasure, and that is temperance. 

40. If thou takest away thy opinion about that which ap- 
pears to give thee pain, thou thyself standest in perfect 
security. Who is this self? The reason. But I am not 
reason. Be it so. Let then the reason itself not trouble 
itself. But if any other part of thee suffers, let it have its 
own opinion about itself (vii. 16). 

41. Hindrance to the perceptions of sense is an evil to 
the animal nature. Hindrance to the movements [desires] 
is equally an evil to the animal nature. And something else 
also is equally an impediment and evil to the constitution 
of plants. So then that which is a hindrance to the intelli- 
gence is an evil to the intelligent nature. Apply all these 
things then to thyself. Does pain or sensuous pleasure affect 
thee? The senses will look to that. Has any obstacle 
opposed thee in thy efforts towards an object? if indeed thou 
wast making this effort absolutely [unconditionally, or with- 
out any reservation], certainly this obstacle is an evil to 
thee considered as a rational animal. But if thou takest 
[into consideration] the usual course of things, thou hast 
not yet been injured nor even impeded. The things however 
which are proper to the understanding no other man is 
used to impede, for neither fire, nor iron, nor tyrant, nor 
abuse, touches it in any way. When it has been made a 
sphere, it continues a sphere (xi. 12). 

42. It is not fit that I should give myself pain, for I have 
never intentionally given pain even to another. 

43. Different things delight different people. But it is 
my delight to keep the ruling faculty sound without turning 
away either from any man or from any of the things which 
happen to m.en, but looking at and receiving -all with wel- 
come eyes and using everything according to its value. 

44. See that you secure this present time to thyself; for 
those who rather pursue posthumous fame do not consider that 


the men of after time will be exactly such as these whom 
they cannot bear now; and both are mortal. And what is it 
in any way to thee if these men of after time utter this or 
that sound, or have this or that opinion about thee ? 

45. Take me and cast me where thou wilt; for there I 
shall keep my divine part tranquil, that is, content, if it can 
feel and act conformably to its proper constitution. Is this 
[change of place] sufficient reason v^^hy my soul should be 
unhappy and worse than it was, depressed, expanded, shrink- 
ing, affrighted? and what wilt thou find which is sufficient 
reason for this? 

46. Nothing can happen to any man \\^hich is not human 
accident, nor to an ox, which is not according to the nature 
of an ox, nor to a vine which is not according to the nature 
of a vine, nor to a stone which is not proper to a stone. If 
then there happens to each thing both what is usual and 
natural, why shouldst thou complain? For the common 
nature brings nothing which m^ay not be borne by thee. 

47. If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this 
that disturbs thee, but thy own judgment about it. And it 
is in thy power to wipe out this judgment now. But if 
anything in thy own disposition gives thee pain, who hinders 
thee from correcting thy opinion? And even if thou art 
pained because thou art not doing some particular thing 
which seems to thee to be right, why dost thou not rather 
act than complain? But some insuperable obstacle is in 
tbe way? Do not be grieved then, for the cause of its 
not being done depends not on thee. But it is not [worth 
while to live, if this cannot be done. Take thy departure 
then from life contentedly, just as he dies who is in full 
activity, and well pleased too with the things which are 

48. Remember that the ruling faculty is invincible, when 
self-collected it is satisfied with itself, if it does nothing 
which it does not choose to do, even if it resist from mere 
obstinacy. What then will it be when it forms a judgment 
about anything aided by reason and deliberately? Therefore 
the mind which is free from passions is a citadel, for man 
has nothing more secure to which he can fly for refuge and 
for the future be inexpugnable. He then who has not seen 


this is an ignorant man; but he who has seen it and does 
not fly to this refuge is unhappy. 

49. Say nothing more to thyself than what the first ap- 
pearances report. Suppose that it has been reported to 
thee that a certain person speaks ill of thee. This has been 
reported; but that thou hast been injured, that has not been 
reported. I see that my child is sick. I do see; but that he 
is in danger, I do not see. Thus then always abide by the 
first appearances, and add nothing thyself from within, and 
then nothing happens to thee. Or rather add something, 
like a man who knows everything that happens in the world. 

50. A cucumber is bitter — Throw it away. — There are 
briars in the road — Turn aside from them. — This is enough. 
Do not add. And why were such things made in the world? 
For thou wilt be ridiculed by a man who is acquainted with 
nature, as thou wouldst be ridiculed by a carpenter and shoe- 
maker if thou didst find fault because thou seest in their 
workshop shavings and cuttings from the things .which they 
make. And yet they have places into which they can throw 
these shavings and cuttings, and the universal nature has no 
external space; but the wondrous part of her art is that 
though she has circumscribed herself, everything within her 
which appears to decay and to grow old and to be useless 
she changes into herself, and again makes other new things 
from these very same, so that she requires neither substance 
from without nor wants a place into which she may cast 
that which decays. She is content then with her own space, 
and her own matter, and her own art. 

51. Neither in thy actions be sluggish, nor in thy con- 
versation without method, nor [wandering in thy thoughts, 
nor let there be in thy soul inward contention nor external 
effusion, nor in life be so busy as to have no leisure. 

Svippose that men kill thee, cut thee in pieces, curse 
thee. What then can these things do to prevent thy mind 
from remaining pure, wise, sober, just? For instance, if 
a man should stand by a limpid pure spring, and curse it, 
the spring never ceases sending up potable water; and if he 
should cast clay into it or filth, it will speedily disperse them 
and wash them out, and will not be at all polluted. How 
then shalt thou possess a perpetual fountain [and not a mere 


well] ? By forming thyself hourly to freedom conjoined with 
contentment, simplicity and modesty. 

52. He who does not know what the world is, does not 
know where he is. And he who does not know for what 
purpose the world exists, does not know who he is, nor what 
the world is. But he who has failed in any one of these 
things could not even say for what purpose he exists him- 
self. What then dost thou think of him who [avoids or] 
seeks the praise of those who applaud, of men who know 
not either where they are or who they are ? 

53. Dost thou wish to be praised by a man who curses 
himself thrice every hour? Wouldst thou v^^ish to please 
a man who does not please himself? Does a man please 
himself who repents of nearly everything that he does ? 

54. No longer let thy breathing only act in concert with 
the air which surrounds thee, but let thy intelligence also 
now be in harmony with the intelligence which embraces 
all things. For the intelligent power is no less diffused in 
all parts and pervades all things for him who is willing to 
draw it to him than the aerial power for him who is able to 
respire it. 

55. Generally, wickedness does not harm at all to the uni- 
verse; and particularly, the wickedness [of one man] does 
no harm to another. It is only harmful to him who has it 
in his power to be released from it, as soon as he shall choose. 

56. To my own free will the free will of my neighbour is 
just as indifferent as his poor breath and flesh. For though 
we are made especially for the sake of one another, still the 
ruling power of each of us has its own office, for otherwise 
my neighbour's wickedness would be my harm, which God has 
not willed in order that my unhappiness may not depend 
on another. 

57. The sun appears to be poured down, and in all direc- 
tions indeed it is diffused, yet it is not effused. For this 
diffusion is extension: Accordingly its rays are called Exten- 
sions [^xrTve?] because they are extended [^dnd rod ixTe[v£<7dai,'j, 
But one may judge what kind of a thing a ray is, if he looks 
at the sun's light passing through a narrow opening into 
a darkened room, for it is extended in a right line, and, 
as it were, is divided when it meets with any solid body 


which stands in the way and intercepts the air beyond; but 
there the hght remains fixed and does not glide or fail off. 
Such then ought to be the outpouring and diffusion of the 
understanding, and it should in no way be an effusion, but 
an extension, and it should make no violent or impetuous 
collision with the obstacles which are in its way; nor yet 
fall down, but be fixed and enlighten that which receives 
it. For a body will deprive itself of the illumination, if 
it does not admit it. 

58. He who fears death either fears the loss of sensation 
or a different kind of sensation. But if thou shalt have no 
sensation, neither wilt thou feel any harm ; and if thou shalt 
acquire another kind of sensation, thou wilt be a different 
kind of living being, and thou wilt not cease to live. 

59. Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them 
then or bear with them. 

60. In one way an arrow moves, in another way the mind,. 
The mind, indeed, both when it exercises caution and when 
it is employed about inquiry, moves straight ©nward not the 
less, and to its object. 

61. Enter into every man's ruling faculty; and also let 
every other man enter into thine. 


'E who acts unjustly acts impiously. For since the 
universal nature has made rational animals for the 
sake of one another to help one another according to 
their deserts, but in no way to injure one another, he who 
transgresses her will, is clearly guilty of impiety towards the 
highest divinity. And he too who lies is guilty of impiety to 
the same divinity; for the universal nature is the nature of 
things that are; and things that are have a relation to all 
things that come into existence. And further, his universal 
nature is named truth, and is the prime cause of all things 
that are true. He then who lies intentionally is guilty of 
impiety inasmuch as he acts unjustly by deceiving; and he 
also who lies unintentionally, inasmuch as he is at variance 
with the universal nature, and inasmuch as he disturbs the 


order by fighting against the nature of the world ; for he fights 
against it, who is moved of himself to that which is contrary 
to truth, for he had received powers from nature through the 
neglect of which he is not able now to distinguish falsehood 
from truth. And indeed he who pursues pleasure as good, 
and avoids pain as evil, is guilty of impiety. For of neces- 
sity such a man must often find fault with the universal nature, 
alleging that it assigns things to the bad and the good con- 
trary to their deserts, because frequently the bad are in the 
enjoyment of pleasure and possess the things which procure 
pleasure, but the good have pain for their share and the 
things which cause pain. And further, he who is afraid of 
pain will sometimes also be afraid of some of the things 
which will happen in the v/orld, and even this is impiety. 
And he who pursues pleasure will not abstain from injustice, 
and this is plainly impiety. Now, with respect to the things 
towards which the universal nature is equally affected — for 
it would not have made both, unless it was equally affected 
towards both — towards these they who wish to follow nature 
should be of the same mind with it, and equally affected. 
With respect to pain, then, and pleasure, or death and life, 
or honour and dishonour, which the universal nature employs 
equally, whoever is not equally affected is manifestly acting 
impiously. And I say that the universal nature employs them 
equally, instead of saying that they happen alike to those 
who are produced in continuous series and to those who 
come after them by virtue of a certain original movement of 
Providence, according to which it moved from a certain be- 
ginning to this ordering of things, having conceived certain 
principles of the things which were to be, and having deter- 
mined powers productive of beings and of changes and of 
•such like successions (vii. 75). 

2. It would be a man's happiest lot to depart from man- 
kind without having had any taste of lying and hypocrisy and 
luxury and pride. However to breathe out one's life when 
a man has had enough of these things is the next best voy- 
age, as the saying is. Hast thou determined to abide with 
vice, and has not experience yet induced thee to fly from this 
pestilence? For the destruction of the understanding is a 
pestilence, much more indeed than any such corruption and 


change of this atmosphere which surrounds us. For this 
corruption is a pestilence of animals so far as they are 
animals ; but the other is a pestilence of men so far as they 
are men. 

3. Do not despise death, but be well content with it, since 
this too is one of those things which nature wills. For such 
as it is to be young and to grow old, and to increase and to 
reach maturity, and to have teeth and beard and gray hairs, 
and to beget, and to be pregnant, and to bring forth, and all 
the other natural operations which the seasons of thy life 
bring, such also is dissolution. This, then, is consistent with 
the character of a reflecting man, to be neither careless nor 
impatient nor contemptuous with respect to death, but to 
wait for it as one of the operations of nature. As thou now 
waitest for the time when the child shall come out of thy 
wife's womb, so be ready for the time when thy soul shall fall 
out of this envelope. But if thou requirest also a vulgar kind 
of comfort which shall reach thy heart, thou wilt be made best 
reconciled to death by observing the objects from which thou 
art going to be removed, and the morals of those with whom 
thy soul will no longer be mingled. For it is no way right 
to be offended with men, but it is thy duty to care for them 
and to bear with them gently; and yet to remember that thy 
departure will be not from men who have the same principles 
as thyself. For this is the only things if there be any, whicH 
could draw us the contrary way and attach us to life, to be 
permitted to live with those who have the same prin- 
ciples as ourselves. But now thou seest how great is the 
trouble arising from the discordance of those who live to- 
gether, so that thou mayst say. Come quick, O death, lest 
perchance I, too, should forget myself. 

4. He who does wrong does wrong against himsell He 
who acts unjustly acts unjustly to himself, because he makes 
himself bad. 

5. He often acts unjustly who does not do a certain thing; 
not only he who does a certain thing. 

6. Thy present opinion founded on understanding, and thy 
present conduct directed to social good, and thy present dis- 
position of contentment with everything which hapgens — that 
is enough. 


7. Wipe out imagination: check desire: extinguish ap- 
petite : keep the ruling faculty in its own power. 

8. Among the animals which have not reason one life is 
distributed; but among reasonable animals one intelligent 
soul is distributed: just as there is one earth of all things 
which are of an earthy nature, and we see by one light, and 
breathe one air, all of us that have the faculty of vision and 
all that have life. 

9. All things Vv^hich participate in anything which is com- 
mon to them all move towards that which is of the same 
kind with themselves. Everything v/hich is earthy turns 
towards the earth, everything which is liquid flows together, 
and everything w^hich is of an aerial kind does the same, 
so that they require something to keep them asunder, and the 
application of force. Fire indeed moves upwards on account 
of the elemental fire, but it is so ready to be kindled together 
with all the fire which is here, that even every substance 
which is somewhat dry, is easily ignited, because there is 
less mingled with it of that which is a hindrance to ignition. 
Accordingly, then everything also which participates in the 
common intelligent nature moves in like manner towards that 
which is of the same kind with itself, or moves even more. 
For so much as it is superior in comparison with all other 
things, in the same degree also is it more ready to mingle 
with and to be fused with that which is akin to it. Accord- 
ingly among animals devoid of reason we find swarms of 
bees, and herds of cattle, and the nurture of young birds, and 
in a manner, loves; for even in animals there are souls, and 
that power which brings them together is seen to exert itself 
in the superior degree, and in such a way as never has been 
observed in plants nor in stones nor in trees. But in rational 
animals there are political communities and friendships, and 
families and meetings of people; and in wars, treaties and 
armistices. But in the things which are still superior, even 
though they are separated from one another, unity in a man- 
ner exists, as in the stars. Thus the ascent to the higher de- 
gree is able to produce a sympathy even in things which are 
separated. See then what now takes place. For only in- 
telligent animals have now forgotten this mutual desire and 
inclination, and in them alone the property of flowing to- 


^ether is not seen. But still, though men strive to avoid 
[this union], they are caught and held by it, for their nature 
is too strong for them ; and thou wilt see what I say, if thou 
(inly observest. Sooner then v/ill one find anything earthy 
which in contact with no earthy thing than a man al- 
together separated from other men. 

10. Both man and God and the universe produce fruit; at 
the proper seasons each produces it. But if usage has es- 
pecially fixed these terms to the vine and like things, this 
is nothing. Reason produces fruit both for all and for itself, 
and there are produced from it other things of the same kind 
as reason itself. 

11. If thou art able, correct by teaching those who do 
wrong; but if thou canst not, remember that indulgence is 
given to thee for this purpose. And the gods, too, are indul- 
gent to such persons ; and for some purposes they even help 
them to get health, wealth, reputation; so kind they are. 
And it is in thy power also; to say, who hinders thee? 

12. Labour not as one who is wretched, nor yet as one who 
would be pitied or admired; but direct thy will to one thing 
only, to put thyself in motion and to check thyself, as the 
social reason requires. 

13. To-day I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have 
cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and 
in my opinions. 

14. All things are the same, familiar in experience, and 
ephemeral in time, and worthless in the matter. Everything 
now is just as it was in the time of those whom we have 

15. Things stand outside of us, themselves by themselves, 
neither knowing aught of themselves, nor expressing any 
judgment. What is it, then, which does judge about them? 
The ruling faculty. 

16. Not in passivity, but in activity lie the evil and the 
good of the rational social animal, just as his virtue and his 
vice lie not In passivity, but in activity. 

17. For the stone which has been thrown up it is no evil 
to come down, nor indeed any good to have been carried up 
(viii. 20). 

18. Penetrate inwards into men's leading principles, ^d 


thou wilt see what judges thou art afraid of, and what 
kind of judges they are of themselves. 

19. All things are changing; and thou thyself art in cori- 
tinuous mutation and in a manner in continuous destruction, 
and the whole universe too. 

20. It is thy duty to leave another man's wrongful act 
there where it is (vii. 29, ix. 38). 

21. Termination of activity^ cessation from movement and 
opinion, and in a sense their death, is no evil. Turn thy 
thoughts now to the consideration of thy life, thy life as a 
child, as a youth, thy manhood, thy old age, for in these also 
every change was a death. Is this anything to fear ? Turn 
thy thoughts now to thy life under thy grandfather, then to 
thy life under thy mother, then to thy life under thy father ; 
and as thou findest many other differences and changes and 
terminations, ask thyself, Is this anything to fear? In like 
manner, then, neither are the termination and cessation and 
change of thy whole life a thing to be afraid of. 

22. Hasten [to examine] thy own ruling faculty and that 
of the universe and that of thy neighbour; thy own 
that thou mayst make it just; and that of the universe, 
that thou mayst remember of what thou art a part; and 
that of thy neighbour, that thou mayst know whether he 
has acted ignorantly or with knowledge, and that thou 
mayst also consider that his ruling faculty is akin to 

23. As thou thyself art a component part of a social sys- 
tem, so let every act of thine be a component part of social 
life. Whatever act of thine then has no reference, either 
immediately or remotely, to a social end, this tears asunder 
thy life, and does not allow it to be one, and it is of the 
nature of a mutiny, just as ,when in a popular assembly a 
man acting by himself stands apart from the general agree- 

24. Quarrels of little children and their sports, and poor 
spirits carrying about dead bodies [such is everything] ; and 
so what is exhibited in the representation of the mansions 
of the dead strikes our eyes more clearly. 

25. Examine into the quality of the form of an object, and 
detach it altogether from its material part, and then con* 


emplate it; then determine the time, the longest which a 
filing of this pecuHar form is naturally made to endure. 

26. Thou hast endured inj&nite troubles through not being 
contented with thy ruling faculty, when it does the things 
which it is constituted by nature to do. But enough [of 

27. When another blames thee or hates thee, or when 
men say about thee anything injurious, approach their 
poor souls, penetrate within, and see what kind of men 
they are. Thou wilt discover that there is no reason to take 
any trouble that these men may have this or that opinion 
about thee. However thou must be well-disposed towards 
them, for by nature they are friends. And the gods too aid 
them in all ways, by dreams, by signs, towards the attainment 
of those things on which they set a value. 

28. The periodic movements of the universe are the same, 
up and down from age to age. And either the universal 
intelligence puts itself in motion for every separate effect, 
and if this is so, be thou content with that which is the result 
of its activity ; or it puts itself in motion once, and everything 
else comes by way of sequence in a manner; or indivisible 
elements are the origin of all things. In a word, if there 
is a god, all is well ; and if chance rules, do not thou also be 
governed by it (vi. 44, vii. 75). y . 

Soon will the earth cover us all: then the earth, too, will 
change, and the things also which result from change will 
continue to change forever, and these again forever. For 
if a man reflects on the changes and transformations which 
follow one another like wave after wave and their rapidity, 
he will despise everything which is perishable (xii. 21). 

29. The universal cause is like a winter torrent : it carries 
everything along with it. But how worthless are all these 
poor people v/ho are engaged in matters political, and, as 
they suppose, are playing the philosopher! All drivelers. 
Well then, man: do what nature now requires. Set thyself 
in motion, if it is in thy power, and do not look about thee 
to see if any one will observe it; nor yet expect Plato's Re- 
public: but be content if the smallest thing goes on well, 
and consider such an event to be no small matter. For 
who can change men's opinions? And without a change of 


opinions what else is there than the slavery of men who 
groan while they pretend to obey? Come now and tell m^ 
of Alexander and Philippus and Demetrius of Phalerun:. 
They themselves shall judge whether they discovered whst 
the common nature required, and trained themselves ac- 
cordingly. But if they acted like tragedy heroes, no one has 
condemned me to imitate them. Simple and modest is the 
work of philosophy. Draw me not aside to insolence and 

30. Look down from above on the countless herds of men 
and their countless solemnities, and the infinitely varied 
voyagings in storms and calms, and the differences among 
those who are born, who live together, and die. And con- 
sider, too, the life lived by others in olden time, and the life 
of those who will live after thee, and the life now lived 
among barbarous nations, and how many know not even thy 
name, and how many will soon forget it, and how they who 
perhaps now are praising thee will very soon blame thee, 
and that neither a posthumous name is of any value, nor 
reputation, nor anything else. 

31. Let there be freedom from perturbations with respect 
to the things which come from the external cause; and let 
there be justice in the things done by virtue of the internal 
cause, that is, let there be movement and action terminating 
in this, in social acts, for this is according to thy nature. 

32. Thou canst remove out of the way many useless things 
among those which disturb thee, for they lie entirely in thy 
opinion; and thou wilt then gain for thyself ample space by 
comprehending the whole universe in thy mind, and by con- 
templating the eternity of time, and observing the rapid 
change of every several thing, how short is the time from 
birth to dissolution, and the illimitable time before birth 
as well as the equally boundless time after dissolution. 

33. All that thou seest will quickly perish, and those who 
have been spectators of its dissolution v/ill very soon perish 
too. And he v/ho dies at the extremest old age will be 
brought into the same condition with him v/ho died pre- 

34. What are these men's leading principles, and about 
what kind of things are they busy, and for v/hat kind of 


reasons do they love and honour? Imagine that thou seest 
their poor souls laid bare. When they think that they do 
harm by their blame or good by their praise, what an idea ! 

35. Loss is nothing else than change. But the universal 
nature delights in change, and in obedience to her all things 
are now done well, and from eternity have been done in 
like form, and will be such to time without end. What then 
dost thou say? That all things have been and all things 
always will be bad, and that no povv^er has ever been found 
in so many gods to rectify these things, but the world has 
been condemned to be bound in never-ceasing evil? (iv. 45, 
vii. 18.) 

36. The rottenness of the matter which is the foundation 
of ever3'-thing ! water, dust, bones, filth; or again, marble 
rocks, the callosities of the earth; and gold and silver, the 
sediments; and garments, only bits of hair; and purple dye, 
blood; and everything else is of the same kind. And that 
which is of the nature of breath, is also another thing of the 
same kind, changing from this to that. 

37. Enough of this wretched life and murmuring and 
apish tricks. Why art thou disturbed? What is there new 
in this? What unsettles thee? Is it the form of the thing? 
Look at it. Or is it the matter? Look at it. But besides 
these there is nothing. Towards the gods, then, now become 
at last more simple and better. It is the same whether we 
examine these things for a hundred years or three. 

38. If any man has done wrong, the harm is his own. But 
perhaps he has not done wrong. 

39. Either all things proceed from one intelligent source 
and com.e together as in one body, and the part ought not 
to find fault with what is done for the benefit of the whole;, 
or there are only atoms, and nothing else than mixture and 
dispersion. Why then art thou disturbed? Say to the 
ruling faculty. Art thou dead, art thou corrupted, art thou 
playing the hypocrite, art thou become a beast, dost thou 
herd and feed with the rest? 

40. Either the gods have no power or they Have power. 
If then they have no power, w^hy dost thou pray to them? 
But if they have power, why dost thou not pray for them 
to give thee the faculty of not fearing any of the things 


which thou fearest, or of not desiring any o£ the things 
which thou desirest, or not being pained at anything, rather 
than pray that any of these things should not happen or 
happen? for certainly if they can co-operate with men^ they 
can co-operate for these purposes. But perhaps thou wilt 
say, the gods have placed them in thy power. Well, then, 
is it not better to use what is in thy power like a free man 
than to desire in a slavish and abject way what is not in 
thy power? And who has told thee that the gods do not 
aid us even in the things which are in our power? Begin, 
then, to pray for such things, and thou wilt see. One man 
prays thus : How shall I be able to lie with that woman ? 
Do thou pray thus : How shall I not desire to lie with her ? 
Another prays thus : How shall I be released from this ? An- 
other prays : How shall I not desire to be released ? Another 
thus : How shall I not lose my little son ? Thou thus : How 
shall I not be afraid to lose him? In fine, turn thy prayers 
this way, and see what comes. 

41. Epicurus says, In my sickness my conversation was 
not about my bodily sufferings, nor, says he, did I talk on 
such subjects to those who visited me; but I continued to 
discourse on the nature of things as before, keeping to this 
main point, how the mind, while participating in such move- 
ments as go on in the poor flesh, shall be free from per- 
turbations and maintain its proper good. Nor did I, he 
says, give the physicians an opportunity of putting on 
solemn looks, as if they were doing something great, but my 
life went on well and happily. Do then the same that he 
did both in sickness, if thou art sick, and in any other cir- 
cumstances; for never to desert philosophy in any events 
that may befall us, nor to hold trifling talk either with an 
ignorant man or with one unacquainted with nature, is a 
principle of all schools of philosophy; but to be intent only 
on that which thou art now doing and on the instrument 
by which thou doest it. 

42. When thou art offended with any man's shameless 
conduct, immediately ask thyself. Is it possible then that 
shameless men should not be in the world? It is not pos- 
sible. Do not then require what is impossible. For this 
man also is one of those shameless men who must of neces- 


sity be in the world. Let the same considerations be present 
to thy mind in the case of the knave, and the faithless, 
and of every man who does wrong in any way. For, at the 
same time, that thou dost remind thyself that it is impossible 
that such kind of m.en should not exist, thou wilt become 
more kindly disposed towards every one individually. It is 
useful to perceive this, too, immediately when the occasion 
arises, v/hat virtue nature has given to man to oppose to 
every wrongful act. For she has given to man, as an anti- 
dote against the stupid man, mildness, and against another 
kind of some other power. And in all cases it is pos- 
sible for thee to correct by teaching the man who is gone 
astray; for every man who errs misses his object and is gone 
astray. Besides Vv'herein hast thou been injured? For thou 
wilt find that no one among those against whom thou art 
irritated has done anything by which thy mind could be made 
worse; but that which is evil to thee and harmful has its 
foundation only in the mind. And what harm is done or 
what is there strange, if the man who has not been instructed 
does the acts of an unlnstructed man? Consider whether 
thou shouldst not rather blame thyself, because thou didst 
not expect such a man to err in such a way. For thou hadst 
means given thee by thy reason to suppose that it was likely 
that he would commit this error, and yet thou hast forgotten 
and art amazed that he has erred. But most of all when 
thou blamest a man as faithless or ungrateful, turn to thy- 
self. For the fault is manifestly thy own, whether thou didst 
trust that a man who had such a disposition would keep 
his promise, or when conferring thy kindness thou didst not 
confer it absolutely, nor yet in such way as to have received 
from thy very act all the profit. For what more dost thou 
want when thou hast done a mian a service? Art thou not 
content that thou hast done something conformable to thy 
nature, and dost thou seek to be paid for it ? Just as if the 
eye demanded a recompense for seeing, or the feet for walk- 
ing. For as these members are formed for a particular pur- 
pose, and by working according to their several constitutions 
obtain what is their own ; so also as man is formed by nature 
to acts of benevolence, when he has done anything benevo- 
lent or in any other way conducive to the common interest^ 


he has acted conformably to his constitution, and he gets 
what is his own. 

'ILT thou then, my soul, never be good and simple 
and one and naked, more manifest than the body 
which surrounds thee? Wilt thou never enjoy an 
affectionate and contented disposition? Wilt thou never be 
full and without a want of any kind, longing for nothing 
more, nor desiring anything, either animate or inanimate, 
for the enjoyment of pleasures? nor yet desiring time 
wherein thou shalt have longer enjoyment, or place, or pleas- 
ant climate, or society of men with whom thou mayst live 
in harmony ? but wilt thou be satisfied with thy present con- 
dition, and pleased with all that is about thee, and wilt thou 
convince thyself that thou hast everything and that it comes 
from the gods, that everything is well for thee, and will be 
well whatever shall please them, and v^^hatever they shall 
give for the conservation of the perfect living being, the 
good and just and beautiful, which generates and holds to- 
gether all things, and contains and embraces all things which 
are dissolved for the production of other like things? Wilt 
thou never be such that thou shalt so dwell in community 
with gods and men as neither to find fault with them at all, 
nor to be condemned by them? 

2. Observe what thy nature requires, so far as thou art 
governed by nature only; then do it and accept it, if thy 
nature, so far as thou art a living being, shall not be made 
worse by it. And next thou must observe what thy nature 
requires so far as thou art a living being. And all this thou 
mayst allow thyself, if thy nature, so far as thou art a 
rational animal, shall not be made worse by it. But the 
rational animal is consequently also a political [social] ani- 
mal. Use these rules then, and trouble thyself about noth- 
ing else. 

3. Everything which happens either happens in such wise 
as thou art formed by nature to bear it, or as thou art not 
formed by nature to bear it. If then it happens to thee 
in such way as thou art formed by nature to bear it, do not 


complain, but bear it as thou art formed by nature to bear 
it. But if it happens in such wise as thou art not formed 
by nature to bear it, do not complain, for it will perish after 
it has consumed thee. Remember, however, that thou art 
formed by nature to bear everything, with respect to which it 
depends on thy ovv^n opinion to make it endurable and toler- 
able, by thinking that it is either thy interest or thy duty 
to do this. 

4. If a man is mistaken, instruct him kindly and show him 
his error. But if thou art not able, blame thyself, or blame 
not even thyself. 

5. Whatever may happen to thee, it was prepared for thee 
from all eternity; and the implication of causes was from 
eternity spinning the thread of thy being, and of that which 
is incident to it (iii. 11 ; iv. 26), 

6. Whether the universe is [a concourse of] atoms, or 
nature [is a system], let this first be established, that I am 
a part of the whole which is governed by nature; next, I 
am in a manner intimately related to the parts which are 
of the same kind with myself. For remembering this, in- 
asmuch as I am a part, I shall be discontented with none 
of the things which are assigned to me out of the whole; 
for nothing is injurious to the part, if it is for the advantage 
of the whole. For the whole contains nothing which is not 
for its advantage; and all natures indeed have this common 
principle, but the nature of the universe has this principle 
besides, that it cannot be compelled even by any external 
cause to generate anything harmful to itself. By remem- 
bering then that I am a part of such a whole, I shall be 
content with everything that happens. And inasmuch as I 
am in a manner intimately related to the parts which are 
of the same kind with myself, I shall do nothing unsocial, 
but I shall rather direct myself to the things which are of 
the same kind with m^yself, and I shall turn all my efforts 
to the common interest, and divert them from the contrary. 
Now, if these things are done so, life must flow on happily, 
just as thou mayst observe that the life of a citizen is 
happy, who continues a course of action which is advanta- 
geous to his fellow-citizens, and is content with whatever the 
state may assign to him. 


7. The parts of the whole, everything, I mean, which i§ 
naturally comprehended in the universe, must of necessity 
perish; but let this be understood in this sense, that they 
must undergo change. But if this is naturally both an evil 
and a necessity for the parts, the whole would not continue 
to exist in a good condition, the parts being subject to change 
and constituted so as to perish in various ways. For whether 
did nature herself design to do evil to the things which are 
parts of herself, and to make them subject to evil and of 
necessity fall into evil, or have such results happened without 
her knowing it? .Both these suppositions, indeed, are in- 
credible. But if a man should even drop the term Nature 
[as an efficient power], and should speak of these things 
as natural, even then it would be ridiculous to affirm at the 
same time that the parts of the whole are in their nature 
subject to change, and at the same time to be surprised or 
vexed as if something were happening contrary to nature, 
particularly as the dissolution of things is into those things 
of which each thing is composed. For there is either a 
dispersion of the elements out of which every thing has been 
compounded, or a change from the solid to the earthy and 
from the airy to the aerial, so that these parts are taken 
back into the universal reason, whether this at certain 
periods is consumed by fire or renewed by eternal changes. 
And do not imagine that the solid and the airy part belong 
to thee from the time of generation. For all this received 
its accretion only yesterday, and the day before, as one 
may say, from the food and the air which is inspired. This 
then, which has received [the accretion], changes, not that 
which thy mother brought forth. But suppose that this 
[which thy mother brought forth] implicates thee very much 
with that other part, which has the peculiar quality [of 
change], this is nothing in fact in the way of objection to 
what is said. 

8. When thou hast assumed these names, good, modesty 
true, rational, a man of equanimity, and magnanimous, take 
care thou dost not change these names ; and if thou shouldst 
lose them, quickly return to them. And remember that tha 
term Rational was intended to signify a discriminating at^ 
tention to every several thing and freedom from negligencej 


and tliat Equanimity is the voluntary acceptance of the 
things which are assigned to thee by the common nature; 
and that Magnanimity is the elevation of the intelligent part 
above the pleasurable or painful sensations of the flesh, and 
above that poor thing called fame, and death, and all such 
things. If, then, thou maintainest thyself in the possession 
of these, without desiring to be called by these names 
by others, thou wilt be another person and wilt enter on 
another life. For to continue to be such as thou hast 
hitherto been, and to be torn in pieces and defiled in such 
a life, is the character of a very stupid man and one over- 
fond of his life, and like those half-devoured fighters with 
wild beasts, who, though covered with w^ounds and gore, 
still entreat to be kept to the following day, though they will 
be exposed in the same state to the same claws and bites. 
Therefore fix thyself in the possession of these few names: 
and if thou art able to abide in them, abide as if thou wast 
removed to certain islands of the Happy. But if thou shalt 
perceive that thou fallest out of them and dost not maintain 
thy hold, go courageously into some nook where thou shalt 
maintain them, or even depart at once from life, not in 
passion, but with simplicity and freedom and modesty, after 
doing this one [laudable] thing at least in thy life, to have 
gone out of it thus. In order, however, to the rem.embrance 
of these, it will greatly help thee, if thou rememberest 
the gods, and that they wish not to be flattered, but wish 
all reasonable beings to be made like themselves ; and if thou 
rememberest that what does the work of a fig-tree is a fig- 
tree, and that what does the v/ork of a dog is a dog, and 
that what does the work of a bee is a bee, and that what does 
the work of a man is a man. 

9. Mimi, w^ar, astonishment, torpor, slavery, will daily 
wipe out those holy principles of thine. How many things 
without studying nature dost thou imagine, and how many 
dost thou neglect? But it is thy duty so to look on and so 
to do everything, that at the same time the pov/er of dealing 
with circumstances is perfected, and the contemplative fac- 
ulty is exercised, and the confidence which comes from the 
knowledge of each several thing is maintained without show- 
ing it, but yet not concealed. For yvhen wilt thou enjoy 


simplicity, when gravity, and when the knowledge of every 
several thing, both what it is in substance, and what place 
it has in the universe, and how long it is formed to exist, 
and of what things it is compounded, and to whom it can 
belong, and who are able both to give it and take it 

10. A spider is proud when it has caught a fly, and an- 
other v/hen he has caught a poor hare, and another when 
he has taken the little fish in a net, and another when he 
has taken wild boars, and another when he has taken bears, 
and another when he has taken Sarmatians. Are not these 
robbers, if thou examinest their opinions? 

11. Acquire the contemplative way of seeing How all 
things change into one another, and constantly attend to it, 
and exercise thyself about this part [of philosophy]. For 
nothing is so much adapted to produce magnanimity. Such 
a man has put off the body, and as he sees that he must, 
no one knows how soon, go away from among men and leave 
everything here, he gives himself up entirely to just doing 
in all his actions, and in everything else that happens be 
resigns himself to the universal nature. But as to what any 
man shall say or think about him, or do against him, he 
never even thinks of it, being himself contented with these 
two things, 3vith acting justly in what he now does, and 
being satisfied with what is now assigned to him' and lie 
lays aside all distracting and busy pursuits, and desires 
nothing else than to accomplish the straight course through 
the law, and by accomplishing the straight course to follow 

12. What need is there of suspicious fear, since it Is 
in thy power to inquire what ought to be done? And if 
thou seest clear, go by this way content, without turning 
back: but if thou dost not see clear, stop and take the best 
advisers. But if any other things oppose thee^ go on ac- 
cording to thy powers with due consideration, keeping to 
that which appears to be just. For it is best to reach this 
object, and if thou dost fail, let thy failure be in attempting 
this. He who follows reason in all things is both tranquil 
and active at the same time, and also cheerful and collected. 

13. Inquire of thyself as soon as thou wakest from sleep 


whether it will make any difference to thee, i£ another does 
what is just and right. It will make no difference (vi. 
32; viii. 55). 

Thou has not forgotten, I suppose, that those who assume 
arrogant airs in bestowing their praise or blame on others, 
arc such as they are at bed and at board, and thou hast not 
forgotten what they do, and what they avoid and what they 
pursue, and how they steal and how they rob, not with hands 
and feet, but with their most valuable part, by means of 
which there is produced, when a man chooses, fidelity, mod- 
esty, truth, lav/, a good daemon [happiness]? (vii. 17). 

14. To her who gives and takes back all, to nature, the 
man who is instructed and modest says, Give what thou wilt ; 
take back what thou v/ilt. And he says this not proudly, 
but obediently and well pleased with her. 

15. Short is the little which remains to thee of life. Live 
as on a mountain. For it makes no difference whether a 
man lives there or here, if he lives everywhere in the world 
as in a state [political community]. Let men see, let them 
know a real man who lives according to nature. If they 
cannot endure him, let them kill him. For that is better 
than to live thus [as men do]. 

16. No longer talk at all about the kind of man that a 
good man ought to be, but be such. 

17. Constantly contemplate the whole of time and the 
whole of substance, and consider that all individual things 
as to substance are a grain of a fig, and as to time the 
turning of a gimlet. 

18. Look at everything that exists, and observe that it 
is already in dissolution and in change, and as it v/ere putre- 
faction or dispersion, or that everything is so constituted 
by nature as to die. 

19. Consider what men are when they are eating, sleeping, 
generating, easing themselves and so forth. Then what kind 
of men they are when they are imxperious and arrogant, or 
angry and scolding from their elevated place. But a short 
time ago to hov/ many they were slaves and for what things : 
and after a little time consider in what a condition they 
will be. 

20. Xhat is for the good of each thing, which the universal 


nature brings to each. And it is for its good^at tHe time 
jvhen nature brings it. 

21. " The earth loves the shower; " and " the solemn aether 
loves : " and the universe loves to make whatever is about to 
be. I say then to the universe, that I love as thou lovest. 
And is not this too said^ that " this or that loves [is wont] to 
be produced." 

22. Either thou livest here and hast already accustomed 
thyself to it, or thou art going away, and this was thy own 
will: or thou art dying and hast discharged thy duty. But 
besides these things there is nothing. Be of good cheer, then. 

23. Let this always be plain to thee, that this piece of land 
is like any other; and that all things here are the same with 
things on the top of a mountain, or on the sea-shore, or 
wherever thou choosest to be. For thou wilt find just what 
Plato says. Dwelling vs^ithin the walls of a city as in a shep- 
herd's fold on a mountain. [The three last words are omitted 
in the translation.] 

24. What is my ruling faculty now to me? and of what 
nature am I now making it ? and for what purpose am I now 
using it? is it void of understanding? is it loosed and rent 
asunder from social life ? is it melted into and mixed with the 
poor flesh so as to move together with it? 

25. He who flies from his master is a runaway; but the 
law is master, and he who breaks the law is a runaway. And 
he also who is grieved or angry or afraid, is dissatisfied be- 
cause something has been or is or shall be of the things 
which are appointed by him who rules all things, and he is 
Lav/, and assigns to every man what is fit. He then who 
fears or is grieved or is angry is a runaway. 

26. A man deposits seed in a womb and goes away, and 
then another cause takes it, and labours on it and makes a 
child. What a thing from such a material ! Again, the 
child passes food down through the throat, and then another 
cause takes it and makes perception and motion, and in fine 
life and strength and other things; how many and how 
strange ! Observe then the things which are produced in 
such a hidden way, and see the power just as we see the 
power which carries things downwards and upwards, not with 
the eyes, but still no less plainly (vii. 75). 


27. Constancy consider how all things such as they now 
are, in time past also were; and consider that they will he 
the same again. And place before thy eyes entire dramas 
and stages of the same form, whatever thou hast learne4 
from thy experience or from older history; for example, the 
whole court of Hadrianus, and the whole court of Antoninus^ 
and the whole court of Philippus, Alexander, Croesus; for 
all those were such dramas as we see now, only with different 

28. Imagine every man who is grieved at anything or dis- 
contented to be like a pig which is sacrificed and kicks and 

Like this pig also is he who on his bed in silence laments 
the bonds in which we are held. And consider that only 
to the rational animal is it given to follow voluntarily what 
happens ; but sim.ply to follow is a necessity imposed on all. 

29. Severally on the occasion of everything that thou doest, 
pause and ask thyself, if death is a dreadful thing because 
it deprives thee of this. 

30. When thou art offended at any man's fault, forthwith 
turn to thyself and reflect in what like manner thou dost err 
thyself; for example, in thinking that money is a good thing, 
or pleasure, or a bit of reputation, and the like. For by 
attending to this thou wilt quickly forget thy anger, if this 
consideration also is added, that the man is compelled; for 
what else could he do? or, if thou art able, take away from 
him the compulsion. 

31. When thou hast seen Satyron the Socratic, think of 
either Eutyches or Hymen, and w^hen thou hast seen Eu- 
phrates, think of Eutychion or Silvanus, and when thou hast 
seen Alciphron think of Tropaeophorus, and when thou hast 
seen Xenophon think of Crito or Severus, and when thou hast 
looked on thyself, think of any other Caesar, and in the case 
of every one do in like manner. Then let this thought be in 
thy mind, Where then are those men? Nowhere, or nobody 
knows where. For thus continuously thou wilt look at hu- 
man things as smoke and nothing at all; especially if thou 
reflectest at the same time that what has once changed will 
never exist again in the infinite duration of time. But thou. 
m what a brief space of time is thy existence ? And why art 


thou not content to pass through this short time in an orderly 
way? What matter and opportunity [for thy activity] art 
thou avoiding? For what else are all these things, except 
exercises for the reason, when it has viewed carefully and by 
examination into their nature the things which happen in 
life ? Persevere then until thou shalt have made these things 
thy own, as the stomach which is strengthened makes all things 
its own, as the blazing fire makes flame and brightness out 
of everything that is thrown into it„ 

32. Let it not be in any mean's power to say truly of thee 
that thou art not simple, or that thou art not good; but let 
him be a liar whoever shall think anything of this kind about 
thee; and this is altogether in thy power. For who is he 
that shall hinder thee from being good and simple ? Do thou 
only determine to live no longer, unless thou shalt be such. 
For neither does reason allow [thee to live], if thou art 
not such. 

33. What is that which as to this material [our life] can be 
done or said in the way most conformable to reason. For 
whatever this may be, it is in thy power to do it or to say it. 
and do not make excuses that thou art hindered. Thou wilt 
not cease to lament till thy mind is in such a condition that, 
what luxury is to those who enjoy pleasure, such shall be 
to thee, in the matter which is subjected and presented to 
thee, the doing of the things v/hich are conformable to man's 
constitution; for a man ought to consider as an enjo3'-ment 
everything which it is in his power to do according to his 
own nature. And it is in his power everywhere. Now, it 
is not given to a cylinder to move everywhere by its own 
motion, nor yet to water nor to fire nor to anything else 
which is governed by nature or an irrational soul, for the 
things which check them and stand in the way are many. 
But intelligence and reason are able to go through everything 
that opposes them, and in such manner as they are formed 
by nature and as they choose. Place before thy eyes this 
facility with which the reason will be carried through all 
things, as fire upwards, as a stone downwards, as a cylinder 
down an inclined surface, and seek for nothing further. For 
all other obstacles either affect the body which is a dead 
thing; or, except through opinion and the yielding of the 


reason itself, they do not crush nor do any harm of any kind ; 
for if they did, he who felt it would immediately become bad. 
Now, in the case of all things which have a certain con- 
stitution, v/hatever harm may happen to any of them, that 
which is so affected becomes consequently worse; but in the 
like case, a man becomes both better, if one may say so, and 
more worthy of praise by making a right use of these ac- 
cidents. And finally remember that nothing harms him who 
is really a citizen, v/hich does not harm the state ; nor yet does 
anything harm the state which does not harm law [order] ; 
and of these things which are called misfortunes not one 
harms law. What then does not harm law does not harm 
either state or citizen. 

34. To him who is penetrated by true principles even the 
briefest precept is sufficient, and any common precept, to re- 
mind him that he should be free from grief and fear. For 
example : 

Leaves, some the wind scatters on the ground- 
So is the race of men. 

Leaves, also, are thy children; and leaves, too, are they who 
cry out as if they were worthy of credit and bestow their 
praise, or on the contrary curse, or secretly blame and sneer ; 
and leaves, in like manner, are those who shall receive and 
transmit a man's fam.e to after-times. For all such things 
as these " are produced in the season of spring," as the poet 
says; then the wind casts them down; then the forest pro- 
duces other leaves in their places. But a brief existence is 
common to all things, and yet thou avoidest and pursuest all 
things as if they would be eternal. A little time, and thou 
shalt close thy eyes; and him who has attended thee to thy 
grave another soon will lam.ent. 

35. The healthy eye ought to see all visible things and not 
to say, I wish for green things ; for this is the condition of a 
diseased eye. And the healthy hearing and smelling ought 
to be ready to perceive all that can be heard and smelled. 
And the healthy stomach ought to be with respect to all food 
just as the mill with respect to all things which it is formed 
to grind. And accordingly the healthy understanding ought 
to be prepared for everything which happens ; but that which 
says, Let my dear children live, and let all men praise what- 


ever I may do, is an eye which seeks for green things, or 
teeth which seek for soft things. 

36. There is no man so fortunate that there shall not be 
by him when he is dying some who are pleased with what is 
going to happen. Suppose that he was a good and wise 
man, will there not be at last some one to say to himself. 
Let us at last breathe freely being relieved from this school- 
master? It is true that he was harsh to none of us, but I 
perceived that he tacitly condemns us. This is what is said 
of a good man. But in our own case how many other things 
are there for which there are many who wish to get rid of 
uSo Thou wilt consider this then when thou art dying, and 
thou wilt depart more contentedly by reflecting thus: I am 
going av/ay from such a life, in which even my associates in 
behalf of whom I have striven so much, prayed, and cared, 
themselves wish me to depart, hoping perchance to get some 
little advantage by it. Why, then, should a man cling to a 
longer stay here ? Do not, however, for this reason go away 
less kindly disposed to them, but preserving thy own char- 
acter, and friendly and benevolent and mild, and on the 
other hand not as if thou wast torn away; but as when a 
man dies a quiet death, the poor soul is easily separated 
from the body, such also ought thy departure from men to be, 
for nature united thee to them and associated thee. But does 
she now dissolve the union? Well, I am separated as from 
kinsmen, not however dragged resisting, but without compul- 
sion; for this too is one of the things according to nature. 

37. Accustom thyself as much as possible on the occasion 
of anything being done by any person to inquire with thyself, 
For what object is this man doing this? but begin with thy- 
self, and examine thyself first. 

38. Remember that this which pulls the strings is the thing 
which is hidden within : this is the power of persuasion, this 
is life; this, if one may so say, is man. In contemplating 
thyself never include the vessel which surrounds thee, and 
these instruments v/hich are attached about it. For they are 
like to an ax, differing only in this that they grow to the 
body. For indeed there is no more use in these parts without 
the cause which moves and checks them than in the weaver's 
shuttle, and the writer's pen, and the driver's whip. 



THESE are the properties of the rational soul: it sees 
itself, analyzes itself, and makes itself such as it 
chooses; the fruit which it bears itself enjoys — for the 
fruits of plants and that in animals which corresponds to 
fruits others enjoy — it obtains its own end, wherever the 
limit of life may be fixed. Not as in a dance and in a play 
and in such like things, where the whole action is incomplete, 
if anything cuts it short; but in every part and wherever it 
may be stopped, it makes what has been set before it full and 
complete, so that it can say, I have what is my own. And 
further it traverses the whole universe, and the surrounding 
vacuum, and surveys its form, and it extends itself into the 
infinity of time, and embraces and comprehends the periodical 
renovation of all things, and it comprehends that those who 
come after us will see nothing new, nor have those before 
us seen anything more^ but in a manner he who is forty years 
old, if he has any understanding at all, has seen by virtue of 
the uniformity that prevails all things which have been and 
all that will be. This too is a property of the rational soul, 
love of one's neighbour, and truth and modesty, and to value 
nothing more than itself, which is also the property of Law. 
Thus then right reason differs not at all from the reason of 

2. Thou wilt set little value on pleasing song and dancing 
and the pancratium, if thou wilt distribute the melody of the 
voice into its several sounds, and ask thyself as to each, if 
thou art mastered by this; for thou wilt be prevented by 
shame from confessing it: and in the matter of dancing, if 
at each movement and attitude thou wilt do the same; and 
the like also in the matter of the pancratium. In all things 
then, except virtue and the acts of virtue, remember to apply 
thyself to their several parts, and by this division to come 
to value them little : and apply this rule also to thy whole life. 

3. What a soul that is which is ready, if at any moment it 
must be separated from the body, and ready either to be ex- 
tinguished or dispersed or continue to exist; but so that this 
readiness comes from a man's own judgment, not from mere 

IQ Hc— Vol. 2 


obstinacy, as with the Christians, but considerately and with 
dignity and in a way to persuade another, without tragic 

4. Have I done something for the general interest? Well 
then I have had my reward. Let this always be present to 
thy mind, and never stop [doing such good]. 

5. What is thy art? to be good. And how is this accom- 
plished well except by general principles, some about the 
nature of the universe, and others about the proper con- 
stitution of man ? 

6. At first tragedies were brought on the stage as means 

of reminding men of the things which happen to them, and 

that it is according to nature for things to happen so, and 

that, if you are delighted with what is shown on the stage, 

you should not be troubled with that which takes place on 

the larger stage. For you see that these things must be 

accomplished thus, and that even they bear them who cry 

out, " O Cithaeron." And, indeed, some things are said well 

by the dramatic writers, of which kind is the following 

especially — 

Me and my children if the gods neglect, 
This has its reason too. 

And again — 

We must not chafe and fret at that which happens. 

And — 

Life's harvest reap like the wheat's fruitful ear. 

And other things of the same kind. 

After tragedy the old comedy was introduced, which had 
a magisterial freedom of speech, and by its very plainness 
of speaking was useful in reminding men to beware of inso- 
lence; and for this purpose too Diogenes used to take from 
these writers. 

But as to the middle comedy which came next, observe 
what it was, and again, for what object the new comedy was 
introduced, which gradually sunk down into a mere mimic 
artifice. That some good things are said even by these 
writers, everybody knows : but the whole plan of such poetry 
and dramaturgy, to what end does it look ! 
7. How plain does it appear that there is not another con- 


ditlon of life so well suited for philosophizing as this in 
which thou now happenest to be. 

8. A branch cut off from the adjacent branch must of 
necessity be cut off from the whole tree also. So too a man 
when he is separated from another man has fallen off from 
the whole social community. Now as to a branch, another 
cuts it oft*^ but a man by his own act separates himself from 
his neighbour when he hates him and turns away from him, 
and he does not know that he has at the same time cut him- 
self off from the whole social system. Yet he has this priv- 
ilege certainly from Zeus who framed society, for it is in our 
power to grow again to that which is near to us, and again to 
become a part which helps to make up the whole. However, 
if it often happens, this kind of separation, it makes it diffi- 
cult for that which detaches itself to be brought to unity and 
to be restored to its former condition. Finally, the branch, 
which from the first grew together with the tree, and has 
continued to have one life with it, is not like that which after 
being cut off is then ingrafted, for this is something like what 
the gardeners mean when they say that it grows with the 
rest of the tree, but that it has not the same mind with it. 

9. As those who try to stand in thy way when thou art 
proceeding according to right reason, will not be able to 
turn thee aside from thy proper action, so neither let them, 
drive thee from thy benevolent feelings tov^rards them, but 
be on thy guard equally in both matters, not only in the mat- 
ter of steady judgment and action, but also in the matter 
of gentleness towards those who try to hinder or otherwise 
trouble thee. For this also is a weakness, to be vexed at 
them, as well as to be diverted from thy course of action and 
to give way through fear ; for both are equally deserters from 
their post, the man who does it through fear, and the man 
who is alienated from him who is by nature a kinsman and 
a friend. 

10. There is no nature which is inferior to art, for the 
arts imitate the natures of things. But if this is so, that 
nature which is the most perfect and the most comprehensive 
of all natures, cannot fall short of the skill of art. Now all 
arts do the inferior things for the sake of the superior ; there- 
fore the universal nature does so too. And, indeed; hence is 


the origin of justice, and in justice the other virtues have 
their foundation: for justice will not be observed, if we 
either care for middle things [things indifferent], or are 
easily deceived and careless and changeable (v. i6, 30; 

vii. 55)- 

11. If the things do not come to thee, the pursuits and 
avoidances of which disturb thee, still in a manner thou 
goest to them. Let then thy judgment about them be at 
rest, and they will remain quiet, and thou wilt not be seen 
either pursuing or avoiding. 

12. The spherical form of the soul maintains its figure, 
when it is neither extended towards any object, nor contracted 
inwards, nor dispersed nor sinks down, but is illuminated by 
light, by which it sees the truth, the truth of all things and 
the truth that is in itself (viii. 41, 45; xii. 3). 

13. Suppose any man shall despise me. Let him look to 
that himself. But I will look to this, that I be not discovered 
doing or saying anything deserving of contempt. Shall any 
man hate me? Let him look to it. But I will be mild and 
benevolent towards every man, and ready to show even him 
his mistake, not reproachfully, nor yet as making a display 
of my endurance, but nobly and honestly, like the great Pho- 
cion, unless indeed he only assumed it. For the interior 
[parts] ought to be such, and a man ought to be seen by the 
gods neither dissatisfied with anything nor complaining. For 
what evil is it to thee, if thou art now doing what is agree- 
able to thy own nature, and art satisfied with that which at 
this moment is suitable to the nature of the universe, since 
thou art a human being placed at thy post in order that what 
is for the comm^on advantage may be done in some way? 

14. Men despise one another and flatter one another; and 
men wish to raise themselves above one another, and crouch 
before one another. 

15. How unsound and insincere is he who says, I have 
determined to deal with thee in a fair way. — What art thou 
doing, man? There is no occasion to give this notice. It 
will soon show itself by arts. The voice ought to be plainly 
written on the forehead. Such as a man's character is, he 
immediately shows it in his eyes, just as he who is beloved 
forthwith reads everything in the eyes of lovers. The man 


who is honest and good ought to be exactly like a man who 
smells strong, so that the bystander as soon as he comes near 
him must smell vv^hether he choose or not. But the affecta- 
tion of simplicity is like a crooked stick. Nothing is more 
disgraceful than a wolfish friendship [false friendship]. 
Avoid this most of all. The good and simple and benevolent 
show all these things in the eyes, and there is no mistaking 

1 6. As to living in the best way, this power is in the soul, 
if it be indifferent to things which are indifferent. And it 
will be indifferent, if it looks on each of these things sepa- 
rately and all together, and if it remembers that not one of 
them produces in us an opinion about itself, nor comes to us ; 
fcut these things remain immovable, and it is we ourselves 
who produce the judgments about them, and, as we may say, 
write them in ourselves, it being in our power not to write 
them, and it being in our power, if perchance these judgments 
have imperceptibly got admission to our minds, to wipe them 
out; and if we remember also that such attention will only 
be for a short time, and then life will be at an end. Besides, 
what trouble is there at all in doing this? For if these 
things are according to nature, rejoice in them, and they will 
be easy to thee: but if contrary to nature, seek what is con- 
formable to thy own nature^ and strive towards this, even if it 
bring no reputation; for every man is allowed to seek his 
own good. 

17. Consider whence each thing is come, and of what it 
consists, and into what it changes, and what kind of a thing 
it will be when it has changed, and that it will sustain no 

18. [If any have offended against thee, consider first] : 
What is my relation to men, and that we are made for one 
another; and in another respect, I was made to be set over 
them, as a ram over the flock or a bull over the herd. But 
examine the matter from first principles, from this: If all 
things are not mere atoms, it is nature which orders all 
things : if this is so, the inferior things exist for the sake of 
the superior, and these for the sake of one another (ii. i ; 
ix. 39; V. 16; iii. 4). 

Second, consider what kind of men they are at table, in 
bed, and so forth; and particularly, under what compulsions 


in respect of opinions they are ; and as to their acts, consider 
with vv^hat pride they do what they do (viii. 14; ix. 34). 

Third, that if men do rightly what they do, we ought 
not to be displeased ; but if they do not right, it is plain that 
they do so involuntarily and in ignorance. For as every soul 
is unwillingly deprived of the truth, so also is it unwillingly 
deprived of the power of behaving to each rnan according to his 
deserts. Accordingly men are pained when they are called 
unjust, ungrateful, and greedy^ and in a word wrong-doers 
to their neighbours (vii. 62, 63; ii. i; vii. 26; viii. 29). 

Fourth, consider that thou also doest many things wrong, 
and that thou art a man like others; and even if thou dost 
abstain from certain faults, still thou hast the disposition to 
commit them, though either through cov/ardice, or concern 
about reputation or some such mean motive, thou dost 
abstain from such faults (i. 17). 

Fifth, consider that thou dost not even understand vv^hether 
men are doing wrong or not, for many things are done with 
a certain reference to circumstances. And, in short, a man 
must learn a great deal to enable him to pass a correct judg- 
ment on another man's acts (ix. 38; iv. 51). 

Sixth, consider when thou art much vexed or grieved, that 
man's life is only a m^oment, and after a short time we are 
all laid out dead (vii. 58; iv. 48). 

Seventh, that it is not men's acts which disturb us, for 
those acts have their foundation in men's ruling principles, 
but it is our own opinions which disturb us. Take away 
these opinions then, and resolve to dismiss thy judgment 
about an act as if it were something grievous, and thy anger 
is gone. How then shall I take away these opinions? By 
reflecting that no wrongful act of another brings shame on 
thee: for unless that which is shameful is alone bad, thou 
also must of necessity do many things wrong, and become a 
robber and everything else (v. 25; vii. 16). 

Eighth, consider how much more pain is brought on us 
by the anger and vexation caused by such acts than by the 
acts themselves, at which we are angry and vexed (iv, 
39, 49; vii. 24). 

Ninth, consider that a good disposition is invincible, if it be 
genuine, and not an affected smile and acting a part^ For 


what will the most violent man do to thee, if thou continuest 
to be of a kind disposition towards him, and if, as opportunity 
offers, thou gently admonishest him and calmly correctest his 
errors at the very time when he is trying to do thee harm, 
ssying. Not so, my child: we are constituted by nature for 
somiCthing else: I shall certainly not be injured, but thou art 
injuring thyself, my child. — And show him with gentle tact 
and by general principles that this is so, and that even bees 
do not do as he does, nor any animals which are formed by 
nature to be gregarious. And thou must do this neither 
with any double meaning nor in the way of reproach, but 
affectionately and without any rancour in thy soul; and not 
as if thou wert lecturing him., nor yet that any bystander may 
admire, but either when he is alone, and if others are present.^ 

Remember these nine rules, as if thou hadst received them 
as a gift from the Muses, and begin at last to be a man 
v/hile thou livest. But thou must equally avoid flattering 
men and being vexed at them, for both are unsocial and lead 
to harm. And let this truth be present to thee in the excite- 
ment of anger, that to be moved by passion is not manly, 
but that mildness and gentleness, as they are more agreeable 
io nature, so also are they more manly; and he who 
possesses these qualities possesses strength, nerves and cour- 
age, and not the man who is subject to fits of passion and 
discontent. For in the same degree in which a man's mind 
is nearer to freedom from all passion, in the same degree 
also is it nearer to strength: and as the sense of pain is 
a characteristic of weakness, so also is anger. For he who 
yields to pain and he who yields to anger, both are wounded 
and both submit. 

But if thou wilt, receive also a tenth present from the 
leader of the [Muses Apollo], and it is this— that to expect 
bad men not to do wrong is m^adness, for he who expects this 
desires an impossibility. But to allow men to behave so to 
others, and to expect them not to do thee any wrong, is 
irrational and tyrannical. 

19. There are four principal aberrations of the superior 
faculty against which thou shouldst be constantly on thy 
guard, and when thou hast detected them, thou shouldst wipe 

1 It appears that there is a defect in the text here. 


them out and say on each occasion thus : this thought is not 
necessary: this tends to destroy social union: this Wi^hich 
thou art going to say comes not from the real thoughts ; for 
thou shouldst consider it among the most absurd of things 
for a man not to speak from his real thoughts. But the 
fourth is when thou shalt reproach thyself for anything, for 
this is an evidence of the diviner part within thee being 
overpowered and yielding to the less honourable and to the 
perishable part, the body, and to its gross pleasures (iv. 
24; ii. 16). 

20. Thy aerial part and all the fiery parts which are mingled 
in thee, though by nature they have an upward tendency, 
still in obedience to the disposition of the universe they are 
overpowered here in the compound mass [the body]. And 
also the whole of the earthly part in thee and the watery, 
though their tendency is downwards, still are raised up and 
occupy a position which is not their natural one. In this 
manner then the elemental parts obey the universal, for when 
they have been fixed in any place perforce they remain there 
until again the universal shall sound the signal for dissolution. 
Is it not then strange that thy intelligent part only should 
be disobedient and discontented with its own place? And 
yet no force is imposed on it, but only those things which 
are conformable to its nature : still it does not submit, but is 
carried in the opposite direction. For the movement towards 
injustice and intemperance and to anger and grief and fear 
is nothing else than the act of one who deviates from nature. 
And also when the ruling faculty is discontented with any- 
thing that happens, then too it deserts its post: for it is con- 
stituted for piety and reverence toward the gods no less than 
for justide. For these qualities also are comprehended 
under the generic term of contentment with the constitution 
of things, and indeed they are prior to acts of justice. 

21. He who has not one and always the same object in 
life, cannot be one and the same all through his life. But 
what I have said is not enough, unless this also is added, 
what this object ought to be. For as there is not the same 
opinion about all the things which in some way or other 
are considered by the majority to be good, but only about 
some certain things, that is, things which concern the com- 


mon interest; so also ought we to propose to ourselves an 
object which shall be of a common kind [social] and political. 
For he who directs all his own efforts to this object, will 
make all his acts alike, and thus will always be the same. 

22. Think of the country mouse and of the town mouse, 
and of the alarm and trepidation of the town mouse. 

23. Socrates used to call the opinions of the many by the 
name of Lamiae, bugbears to frighten children. 

24. The Lacedaemonians at their public spectacles used 
to set seats in the shade for strangers, but themselves sat 
down anywhere. 

25. Socrates excused himself to Perdiccas for not going 
to him, saying, It is because I would not perish by the worst 
of all ends, that is, I would not receive a favour and then 
be unable to return it. 

26. In the writings of the [Ephesians] there was this 
precept, constantly to think of some one of the men of for- 
mer times who practiced virtue. 

2"/. The Pythagoreans bid us in the morning look to the 
heavens that we may be reminded of those bodies which con- 
tinually do the same things and in the same manner perform 
their work, and also be reminded of their purity and nudity. 
For there is no veil over a star. 

28. Consider what a man Socrates was when he dressed 
himself in a skin, after Xanthippe had taken his cloak and 
gone out, and v/hat Socrates said to his friends who were 
ashamed of him and drew back from him when they saw 
him dressed thus. 

29. Neither in writing nor in reading wilt thou be able 
to lay down rules for others before thou shalt have first 
learned to obey rules thyself. Much more is this so in life. 

30. A slave thou art: free speech is not for thee. 

31. — And my heart laughed within (Od. ix. 413). 

32. And virtue they will curse speaking harsh words 
'^(Hesiod, "Works and Days," 184). 

33. To look for the fig in winter is a madman's act: such 
IS he who looks for his child when it is no longer allowed 
(Epictetus, iii. 24, 87). 

34. When a man kisses his child, said Epictetus, he should 
whisper to himself, " To-morrow perchance thou wilt die." 


But those are words of bad omen. " No word is a word of 
bad omen," said Epictetus, " which expresses any work of 
nature; or if it is so, it is also a word of bad omen to speak 
of the ears of corn being reaped" (Epictetus, iii. 24, 88). 

35. The unripe grape, the ripe bunch, the dried grape all 
are changes, not into nothing, but into something which 
exists not yet (Epictetus, iii. 24). 

36. No man can rob us of our free will (Epictetus, iii. 
22, 105). _ 

37. Epictetus also said, a man m.ust discover an art [or 
rules] with respect to giving his assent; and in respect to 
his movements he must be careful that they be made with 
regard to circumstances, that they be consistent with social 
interests, that they have regard to the value of the object; 
and as to sensual desire, he should altogether keep away from 
it; and as to avoidance [aversion] he should not show it with 
respect to any of the things which are not in our power. 

38. The dispute then, he said, is not about any comm.on 
matter, but about being mad or not. 

39. Socrates used to say, What do you want? Souls of 
rational men or irrational? — Souls of rational men. — Of 
what rational men? Sound or unsound? — Sound. — Why 
then do you not seek for them? — Because we have them. — 
VV'hy then do you fight and quarrel? 


LL those things at which thou v/ishest to arrive by a 
circuitous road, thou canst have now, if thou dost 
not refuse them to thyself. And this means, if thou 
wilt take no notice of all the past, and trust the future to 
providence, and direct the present only conformably to piety 
and justice. Conformably to piety, that thou mayest be 
content with the lot which is assigned to thee, for nature 
designed it for thee and thee for it. Conformably to justice, 
that thou mayest always speak the truth freely and without 
disguise, and do the things which are agreeable to law and 
according to the worth of each. And let neither another 
man's y/ickedness hinder thee, nor opinion nor voice, nor 


yet the sensations of the poor flesh which has grown about 
thee; for the passive part will look to this. If then, what- 
ever the time may be when thou shalt be near to thy de- 
parture, neglecting everything else thou shalt respect only 
thy ruling faculty and the divinity within thee, and if thou 
shalt be afraid not because thou must some time cease to 
live, but if thou shalt fear never to have begun to live 
according to nature — then thou wilt be a man worthy of 
the universe which has produced thee, and thou wilt cease 
to be a stranger in thy native land, and to wonder at things 
which happen daily as if they were something unexpected, 
and to be dependent on this or that. 

2. God sees the minds (ruling principles) of all men 
bared of the material vesture and rind and impurities. For 
w^ith his intellectual part alone he touches the intelligence 
only which has flowed and been derived from himself into 
these bodies. And if thou also usest thyself to do this, 
thou wilt rid thyself of thy much trouble. For he who re- 
gards not the poor flesh which envelops him, surely will not 
trouble himself by looking after raiment and dwelling and 
fame and such like externals and show. 

3. The things are three of which thou art composed, a 
little body, a little breath [life], intelligence. Of these the 
first two are thine, so far as it is thy duty to take care of 
them; but the third alone is properly thine. Therefore, if 
thou shalt separate from thyself, that is, from thy under- 
standing, whatever others do or say, and whatever thou 
hast done or said thyself, and whatever future things trouble 
thee because they may happen, and whatever in the body 
which envelops thee, or in the breath [life], which is by 
nature associated with the body, is attached to thee inde- 
pendent of thy will, and whatever the exernal circumfluent 
vortex whirls round, so that the intellectual power exempt 
from the things of fate can live pure and free by itself, 
doing what is just and accepting what happens and saying 
the truth: if thou wilt separate, I say, from this ruling 
faculty the things which are attached to it by the impres- 
sions of sense, and the things of time to come and of time 
that is past, and v/ilt make thyself like Empedocles' sphere, — 

All round, and in its joyous rest reposing; 


and if thou shalt strive to live only what is really thy 
life, that is, the present, then thou wilt be able to pass that 
portion of life which remains for thee up to the time of 
thy death, free from perturbations, nobly, and obedient to 
thy own daemon [to the god that is within thee] (ii. 13, 17; 
iii. 5, 6; xi. 12). 

4. I have often wondered how it is that every man loves 
himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less 
value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion 
of others. If then a god or a wise teacher should present 
himself to a man and bid him to think of nothing and to 
design nothing which he would not express as soon as he 
conceived it, he could not endure it even for a single day. 
So much more respect have we to what our neighbours shall 
think of us than to what we shall think of ourselves. 

5. How can it be that the gods, after having arranged 
all things well and benevolently for mankind, have over- 
looked this alone, that some men and very good men, and 
men who, as we may say, have had most communion with 
the divinity, and through pious acts and religious observ- 
ances have been most intimate with the divinity, when they 
have once died should never exist again, but should be 
completely extinguished? 

But if this is so, be assured that if it ought to have been 
otherwise, the gods would have done it. For if it were just, 
it would also be possible; and if it were according to 
nature, nature would have had it so. But because it is 
not so, if in fact it is not so, be thou convinced that it ought 
not to have been so : — for thou seest even of thyself that in 
this inquiry thou art disputing with the deity ; and we should 
not thus dispute with the gods, unless they were most ex- 
cellent and most just ; — but if this is so, they would not have 
allowed anything in the ordering of the universe to be 
neglected unjustly and irrationally. 

6. Practise thyself even in the things which thou de- 
spairest of accomplishing. For even the left hand, which 
is ineffectual for all other things for want of practice, holds 
the bridle more vigorously than the right hand; for it 
has been practised in this. 

7. Consider in wj^at condition, both in body and soul, a 


man should be when he is overtaken by death ; and consider 
the shortness of Hfe, the boundless abyss of time, past and 
future, the feebleness of all matter. 

8. Contemplate the formative principles [forms] of things 
bare of their coverings; the purposes of actions; consider 
what pain is, what pleasure is, and death, and fame; who 
is to himself the cause of his uneasiness; how no man is 
hindered by another ; that everything is opinion. 

9. In the application of thy principles thou must be like 
the pancratiast, not like the gladiator; for the gladiator 
lets fall the sword which he uses and is killed; but the 
other always has his hand, and needs to do nothing else 
than use it. 

10. See what things are in themselves, dividing them into 
matter, form and purpose. 

11. What a power man has to do nothing except what 
God will approve, and to accept all that God may give him. 

12. With respect to that which happens conformably to 
nature, we ought to blame neither gods, for they do nothing 
wrong either voluntarily or involuntarily, nor men, for they 
do nothing wrong except involuntarily. Consequently we 
should blame nobody (ii. 11, 12, 13; vii. 62; viii. 17). 

13. How ridiculous and what a stranger he is who is 
surprised at anything which happens in life. 

14. Either there is a fatal necessity and invincible order, 
or a kind providence, or a confusion without a purpose 
and without a director (iv. 27). If then there is an in- 
vincible necessity, why dost thou resist? But if there is a 
providence which allows itself to be propitiated, make 
thyself worthy of the help of the divinity. But if there 
is a confusion without a governor, be content that in such 
a tempest thou hast in thyself a certain ruling intelligence. 
And even if the tempest carry thee away, let it carry away 
the poor flesh, the poor breath, everything else; for the 
intelligence at least it will not carry away. 

15. Does the light of the lamp shine without losing its 
Splendour until it is extinguished; and shall the truth which 
is in thee and justice and temperance be extinguished [before 
thy death] ? 

16. When a man has presented the appearance of having 


done wrong, [say]. How then do I know i£ this is a wrong- 
ful act? And even if he has done wrong, how do I know 
that he has not condemned himself? and so this is like tear;? 
ing his own face. Consider that he, who would not hav€ 
the bad man do wrong, is like the man who would not Have 
the fig tree to bear juice in the figs and infants to cry and 
the horse to neigh, and whatever else must of necessity be. 
For what must a man do who has such a character? If 
then thou art irritable, cure this man's disposition, 

17. If it is not right, do not do it: if it is not true, do 
not say it. [For let thy efforts be.~ ]^ 

18. In everything always observe what the thing is which 
produces for thee an appearance, and resolve it by dividing 
it into the formal, the material, the purpose, and the time 
within which it must end. 

19. Perceive at last that thou hast in thee something 
better and more divine than the things which cause the 
various effects, and as it were pull thee by the strings. 
What is there now in my mind? is it fear, or suspicion, or 
desire, or anything of the kind? (v. 11). 

20. First, do nothing inconsiderately, nor without a pur- 
pose. Second, make thy acts refer to nothing else than to 
a social end. 

21. Consider that before long thou wilt be nobody and 
nowhere, nor will any of the things exist which thou now 
seest, nor any of those who are now living. For all things 
are formed by nature to change and be turned and to perish 
in order that other things in continuous succession may 
exist (ix. 28 )e 

22. Consider that everything is opinion, and opinion is 
in thy power. Take away then, when thou choosest, thy 
opinion, and like a mariner, who has doubled the promontory, 
thou wilt find calm, everything stable, and a waveless bay. 

23. Any one activity, whatever it may be, when it has 
ceased at its proper time, suffers no evil because it has 
ceased; nor he who has done this act, does he suffer any 
evil for this reason that the act has ceased. In like manner 
then the whole which consists of all the acts, which is our 
life, if it cease at its proper time, suffers no evil for this 

^There Is somethiag wrong here, or incomplete. 


reason that it has ceased; nor he who has terminated this 
series at the proper time, has he been ill dealt with. But 
the proper time and the limit nature fixes, sometimes as in 
old age the peculiar nature of man, but always the universal 
nature, by the change of whose parts the whole universe 
continues ever young and perfect. And everything which 
is useful to the universal is always good and in season. 
Therefore the term.ination of life for every man is no evil, 
because neither is it shameful, since it is both independent 
of the will and not opposed to the general interest, but it 
is good, since it is seasonable and profitable to and con- 
gruent with the universal. For thus too he is moved by 
the deity who is moved in the same manner with the deity 
and moved towards the same things in his mind. 

24. These three principles thou must have in readiness. 
In the things which thou doest do nothing either inconsid* 
erately or otherv/ise than as justice herself w^ould act; but 
with respect to what may happen to thee from without 
consider that it happens either by chance or according to 
providence, and thou must neither blame chance nor accuse 
providence. Second, consider what every being is from the 
seed to the time of its receiving a soul, and from the reception 
of a soul to the giving back of the sam.e, and of what things 
every being is compounded and into what things it is re- 
solved. Third, if thou shouldst suddenly be raised up above 
the earth, and shouldst look dov/n on human beings, and 
observe the variety of them how great it is, and at the same 
time also shouldst see at a glance how great is the number 
of beings v/ho dwell all around in the air and the aether, 
consider that as often as thou shouldst be raised up, thou 
wouldst see the same things, sameness of form and shortness 
of duration. Are these things to be proud of? 

25. Cast away opinion : thou art saved. Who then hinders 
thee from casting it away? 

26. When thou art troubled about anything, thou hast 
forgotten this, that all things happen according to the 
universal nature; and forgotten this, that a man's wro-ngful 
act is nothing to thee; and further thou hast forgotten this, 
that everything v/hich happens, alvvrays happened so and will 
happen so, and now happens so everywhere; forgotten this 


too, how close is the kinship between a man an(i the whole 
human race, for it is a community, not of a little blood or 
seed, but of intelligence. And thou hast forgotten this too, 
that every man's intelligence is a god, and is an efflux of 
the deity; and forgotten this, that nothing is a man's own, 
but that his child and his body and his very soul came from 
the deity; forgotten this, that everything is opinion; and 
lastly thou hast forgotten that every man lives the present 
time only, and loses only this. 

27. Constantly bring to thy recollection those who have 
complained greatly about anything, those who have been 
most conspicuous by the greatest fame or misfortunes or 
enmities or fortunes of any kind : then think where are they 
all now? Smoke and ash and a tale, or not even a tale. 
And let there be present to thy mind also everything of this 
sort, how Fabius Catullinus lived in the country, and Lucius 
Lupus in his gardens, and Stertinius at Baiae, and Tiberius 
at Capreae, and Velius Rufus [or Rufus at Velia] ; and in 
fine think of the eager pursuit of anything conjoined with 
pride; and how worthless everything is after which men 
violently strain; and how much more philosophical it is 
for a man in the opportunities presented to him to show 
himself just, temperate, obedient to the gods, and to do 
this with all simplicity: for the pride which is proud of 
its want of pride is the most intolerable of all. 

28. To those who ask. Where hast thou seen the gods, 
or how dost thou comprehend that they exist and so wor- 
shipest them, I answer, in the first place, they may be seen 
even with the eyes; in the second place neither have I 
seen even my own soul and yet I honour it. Thus then with 
respect to the gods, from what I constantly experience of 
their power, from this I comprehend that they exist and I 
venerate them. 

29. The safety of life is this, to examine everything all 
through, what it is itself, what is its material, what the 
formal part; with all thy soul to do justice and to say the 
truth. What remains except to enjoy life by joining one 
good thing to another so as not to leave even the smallest 
intervals between. 

3O0 There is one light o£ the sun, though it is interrupted 

:THE meditations of MARCUS AURELIUS 305 

by walls, mountains, and other things infinite. There is one 
common substance, though it is distributed among countless 
bodies which have their several qualities. There is one soul, 
though it is distributed am^ong infinite natures and individual 
circumscriptions [or individuals]. There is one intelligent 
soul, though it seems to be divided. Now in the things 
which have been mentioned all the other parts, such as those 
which are air and matter, are without sensation and have no 
fellowship : and yet even these parts the intelligent principle 
holds together, and the gravitation towards the same. But 
intellect in a peculiar manner tends to that which is of th^ 
same kin, and combines with it, and the feeling for com* 
munion is not interrupted. 

31. What dost thou wish? to continue to exist? Well, 
dost thou wish to have sensation? movement? growth? and 
then again to cease to grow? to use thy speech? to think? 
What is there of all these things which seem to thee worth 
desiring? But if it is easy to set little value on all these 
things, turn to that which remains, which is to follow reason 
and god. But it is inconsistent with honouring reason and 
god to be troubled because by death a will be deprived 
of the other things. 

32. How small a part of the boundless and unfathomable 
time is assigned to every man? for it is very soon swal- 
lowed up in the eternal. And how small a part of the whole 
substance? and how small a part of the universal soul? 
and on what a small clod of the whole earth thou creepest? 
Reflecting on all this consider nothing to be great, except 
to act as thy nature leads thee, and to endure that which 
the common nature brings. 

33. How does the ruling faculty make use of itself? for 
all lies in this. But everything else, whether it is in the 
power of thy will or not, is only lifeless ashes and smoke. 

34. This reflection is most adapted to move us to contempt 
of death, that even those who think pleasure to be a good 
and pain an evil still have despised it. 

35. The man to whom that only is good which comes in 
due season, and to whom it is the same thing whether he 
has done more or fewer acts conformable to right reason, 
and to whom it makes no difference whether he contemplates 


the world for a longer or a shorter time — for this man neither 
is death a terrible thing (iii. 7; vi. 23; x. 20; xiL 23). 

36. Man, thou hast been a citizen in this great state [the 
world] : what difference does it make to thee whether for 
five years [or three] ? for that which is conformable to the 
laws is just for all. Where is the hardship then, if no tyrant 
nor yet an unjust judge sends thee away from the state, but 
nature who brought thee into it? the same as if a praetor 
who has employed an actor dismisses him from the stage. 
" But I have not finished the five acts, but only three of them," 
—Thou sayest well, but in life the three acts are the whole 
drama; for what shall be a complete drama is determined 
by him who was once the cause of its composition, and now 
of its dissolution : but thou art the cause of neither. Depart 
then satisfied, for he also who releases thee is satisfied* 


ANTONINUS was born at Rome a.d. 121, on the 
26th of April. His father Annius Verus died while 
• he was praetor. His mother was Domitia Calvilla 
also named Lucilla. The Emperor T. Antoninus Pius 
married Annia Galeria Faustina, the sister of Annius Verus, 
and was consequently the uncle of M. Antoninus. When 
Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius and declared him his suc- 
cessor in the empire, Antoninus Pius adopted both L. Ceio- 
nius Commodus, the son of Aelius Caesar, and M. Antoninus, 
whose original name was M. Annius Verus. Antoninus 
then took the name of M. Aelius Aurelius Verus to which 
was added the title of Caesar in a.d, 139: the nam^e Aelius 
belonged to Hadrian's family, and Aurelius was the name 
of Antoninus Pius. When M. Antoninus became Augustus, 
he dropped the name of Verus and took the name of Anto- 
ninus. Accordingly he is generally named Mo Aurelius 
Antoninus or simply M. Antoninus, 

The youth was most carefully brought up. He thanks the 
gods (i. 17) that he had good grandfathers, good parents, a 
good sister, good teachers, good associates, good kinsmen 
and friends, nearly everything good. He had the happy 
fortune to witness the exam^ple of his uncle and adoptive 
father Antoninus Pius, ?nd he has recorded in his v/ork (i. 
16; VI. 30) the virtues of this excellent man and prudent 
ruler» Like m.any young Romans he tried his hand at poetry 
and studied rhetoric. Herodes Atticus and M. Cornelius 
Fronto were his teachers in eloquence. There are extant 
letters between Fronto and Marcus,^ which show the great 
affection of the pupil for the master, and the master's great 

^M. Cornelii Frontonis Reliquiae, Berlin, 1816. There are a few letters 
between Fronto and Antoninus Pius. 



hopes of his industrious pupil. M. Antoninus mentions 
Fronto (i. ii) among those to whom he was indebted for 
his education. 

When he was eleven years old, he assumed the dress of 
philosophers, something plain and coarse, became a hard 
student, and lived a most laborious abstemious life, even so 
far as to injure his health. Finally, he abandoned poetry 
and rhetoric for philosophy, and he attached himself to the 
sect of the Stoics. But he did not neglect the study of law, 
which was a useful preparation for the high place which he 
was designed to fill. His teacher was L. Volusianus Mae- 
cianus a distinguished jurist. We must suppose that he 
learned the Roman discipline of arms, which was a necessary 
part of the education of a man who afterwards led his troops 
to battle against a warlike race. 

Antoninus has recorded in his first book the names of his 
teachers and the obligations which he owed to each of them. 
The way in which he speaks of what he learned from them 
might seem to savour of vanity or self-praise, if we look 
carelessly at the way in which he has expressed himself; but 
if any one draws this conclusion, he will be mistaken. Anto- 
ninus means to commemorate the merits of his several 
teachers, what they taught and what a pupil might learn 
from them. Besides, this book like the eleven other books 
was for his own use, and if we may trust the note at the end 
of the first book, it was written during one of M. Antoninus' 
campaigns against the Quadi, at a time when the commemo- 
ration of the virtues of his illustrious teachers might remind 
him of their lessons and the practical uses which he might 
derive from them. 

Among his teachers of philosophy was Sextus of Chae- 
roneia a grandson of Plutarch. What he learned from this 
excellent man is told by himself (i. 9). His favourite 
teacher was Q. Junius Rusticus (i. 7), a philosopher and also 
a man of practical good sense in public affairs. Rusticus 
was the adviser of Antoninus after he became emperor. 
Young men who are destined for high places are not often 
fortunate in those who are about them, their companions and 
teachers; and I do not know any example of a young prince 
"having had an education which can be compared with that 


of M. Antoninus. Such a body of teachers distinguished by 
their acquirements and their character will hardly be col- 
lected again; and as to the pupil, we have not had one like 
him since. 

Hadrian died in July a.d, 138, and was succeeded by Anto- 
ninus Pius. M. Antoninus married Faustina, his cousin, 
the daughter of Pius, probably about a.d. 146, for he had a 
daughter born in 147. He received from his adoptive 
father the title of Caesar and was associated with him in the 
administration of the state. The father and the adopted 
son lived together in perfect friendship and confidence. 
Antoninus was a dutiful son, and the emperor Pius loved 
and esteemed him. 

Antoninus Pius died in March a.d. 161. The Senate, it is 
said, urged M'. Antoninus to take the sole administration of 
the empire, but he associated with himself the other adopted 
son of Pius, L. Ceionius Commodus, who is generally called 
L. Verus. Thus Rome for the first time had two emperors. 
Verus was an indolent man of pleasure and unworthy of his 
station. Antoninus however bore with him, and it is said 
that Verus had sense enough to pay to his colleague the re- 
spect due to his character. A virtuous emperor and a loose 
partner lived together in peace, and their alliance was 
strengthened by Antoninus giving to Verus for wife his 
daughter Lucilla. 

The reign of Antoninus was first troubled by a Parthian 
war, in which Verus was sent to command, but he did noth- 
ing, and the success that was obtained by the Romans in 
Armenia and on the Euphrates and Tigris was due to his 
generals. This Parthian war ended in a.d. 165. Aurelius 
and Verus had a triumph (a.d. 166) for the victories in 
the east. A pestilence followed which carried off great 
numbers in Rome and Italy, and spread to the west of 

The north of Italy was also threatened by the rude people 
beyond the Alps from the borders of Gallia to the eastern 
side of the Hadriatic. These barbarians attempted to break 
into Italy, as the Germanic nations had attempted near three 
hundred years before; and the rest of the life of Antoninus 
Svith some intervals was employed in driving feack the m^ 


vaders. In 169 Verus suddenly died, and Antoninus ad- 
ministered the state alone. 

During the German wars Antoninus resided for three 
years on the Danube at Carnuntum. The Marcomanni were 
driven out of Pannonia and almost destroyed in their retreat 
across the Danube; and in a.d. 174 the emperor gained a 
great victory over the Quadi. 

In A.D. 175 Avidius Cassius a brave and skilful Roman 
commander who was at the head of the troops in Asia re- 
volted and declared himself Augustus. But Cassius was 
assassinated by some of his officers, and so the rebellion 
came to an end. Antoninus showed his humanity by his 
treatment of the family and the partisans of Cassius, and 
his letter to the senate in which he recommends mercy is 
extant. (Vulcatius, Avidius Cassius, c. 12.) 

Antoninus set out for the east on hearing of Cassius* re- 
volt Though he appears to have returned to Rome in a.d. 
174, he went back to prosecute the war against the Germans, 
and it is probable that he marched direct to the east from 
the German war. His wife Faustina who accompanied him 
into Asia died suddenly at the foot of the Taurus to the 
great grief of her husband. Capitolinus, who has written 
the life of Antoninus, and also Dion Cassius accuse the 
empress of scandalous infidelity to her husband and of 
abominable lewdness. But Capitolinus says that Antoninus 
either knew it not or pretended not to know it. Nothing is 
so comm.on as such malicious reports in all ages, and the 
history of imperial Rome is full of them. Antoninus loved 
his wife and he says that she was "obedient, affectionate 
and simple." The same scandal had been spread about 
Faustina's mother, the wife of Antoninus Pius, and yet he 
too was perfectly satisfied with his wife. Antoninus Pius 
says after her death in a letter to Fronto that he would 
rather have lived in exile with his wife than in his palace 
at Rome without her. There are not many men who would 
give their wives a better character than these two emperors, 
Capitolinus wrote in the time of Diocletian. He may have 
intended to tell the truth, but he is a poor feeble biographer. 
Dion Cassius, the most malignant of historians, always re- 
ports and perhaps he believed any scandal against anybody. 


Antoninus continued his journey to Syria and Egypt, and 
on his return to Italy through Athens he was initiated into 
the Eleusinian mysteries. It was the practice of the emperor 
to conform to the established rites of the age and to perform 
religious ceremonies with due solemnity. We cannot con- 
clude from this that he was a superstitious, though we 
might perhaps do so, if his book did not show that he was 
not. But this is only one among many instances that a 
ruler's public acts do not always prove his real opinions. A 
prudent governor will not roughly oppose even the super- 
stitions of his people, and though he may wish that they were 
wiser, he will know that he cannot make them so by offend- 
ing their prejudices. 

Antoninus and his son Commodus entered Rome in tri- 
umph, perhaps for some German victories, on the 23rd of 
Decem^ber a.d. 176. In the following year Commodus was 
associated with his father in the empire and took the name 
of Augustus. This year a.d. 177 is memorable in ecclesias- 
tical history. Attains and others were put to death at Lyon 
for their adherence to the Christian religion. The evidence 
of this persecution is a letter preserved by Eusebius (E. H. 
v. I ; printed in Routh^s "Reliquiae Sacrae,*' vol. I. with 
notes). The letter is from the Christians of Vienna and 
Lugdunum in Gallia (Vienne and Lyon) to their Christian 
brethren in Asia and Phrygia; and it is preserved perhaps 
nearly entire. It contains a very particular description of 
the tortures inflicted on the Christians in Gallia, and it states 
that while the persecution was going on, Attains a Christian 
and a Roman citizen was loudly demanded by the populace 
and brought into the amphitheatre, but the governor ordered 
him to be reserved with the rest who were in prison, until he 
had received instructions from the emperor. Many had been 
tortured before the governor thought of applying to Anto- 
ninus. The imperial rescript, says the letter, was that the 
Christians should be punished, but if they would deny their 
faith, they m.ust be released. On this the work began again. 
The Christians who were Roman citizens were beheaded: 
the rest were exposed to the wild beasts in the amphitheatre. 
Some modern writers on ecclesiastical history, when they 
use this letter, say nothing of the wonderful stories of the 


martyrs* sufiFerings. Sancttis, as the letter says, was burnt 
with plates of hot iron till his body was one sore and had 
lost all human form, but on being put to the rack he re- 
covered his former appearance under the torture, which was 
thus a cure instead of a punishment. He was afterwards 
torn by beasts, and placed on an iron chair and roasted. He 
died at last. 

The letter is one piece of evidence. The writer, whoever 
he was that wrote in the name of the Gallic Christians, is 
our evidence both for the ordinary and the extraordinary 
circumstances of the story, and we cannot accept his evi- 
dence for one part and reject the other. We often receive 
small evidence as a proof of a thing which we believe to be 
within the limits of probability or possibility, and we reject 
exactly the same evidence, when the thing to which it re- 
fers, appears very improbable or impossible. But this is a 
false method of inquiry, though it is followed by some 
modern writers, who select what they like from a story and 
reject the rest of the evidence; or if they do not reject it, 
they dishonestly suppress it. A man can only act con- 
sistently by accepting all this letter or rejecting it all, and 
we cannot blame him for either. But he who rejects it may 
still admit that such a letter may be founded on real facts; 
and he would *make this admission as the most probable way 
of accounting for the existence of the letter: but if, as he 
would suppose, the writer has stated some things falsely, he 
cannot tell what part of his story is worthy of credit. 

The war on the northern frontier appears to have been 
uninterrupted during the visit of Antoninus to the East, and 
on his return the emperor again left Rome to oppose the 
barbarians. The Germanic people were defeated in a 
great battle a.d. 179. During this campaign the emperor 
was seized with some contagious malady, of which he died 
in the camp at Sirmium (Mitrovitz) on the Save in Lower 
Pannonia, but at Vindobona (Vienna) according to other 
authorities, on the 17th March a.d. 180, in the fifty-ninth 
year of his age. His son Commodus was with him. The 
body or the ashes probably of the emperor were carried to 
Rome, and he received the honour of deification. Those 
^vho could afford it had his statue or bust, and when Capito- 


lijius wrote, many people still had statues of !Sntoninus 
among the Dei Penates or household deities. He was in a 
manner made a saint. Commodus erected to the memory of 
his father the Antonine column which is now in the Piazza 
Colonna at Rome. The bas-reliefs which are placed in a 
spiral line round the shaft commemorate the victories of 
Antoninus over the Marcomanni and the Quadi, and the 
miraculous shower of rain which refreshed the Roman 
soldiers and discomfited their enemies. The statue of Anto- 
ninus was placed on the capital of the column, but it was 
removed at some time unknown, and a bronze statue of St. 
Paul was put in the place by Pope Sixtus the fifth. 

The historical evidence for the times of Antoninus is very 
defective, and some of that which remains is not credible The 
most curious is the story about the miracle which happened 
in A.D. 174 during the war with the Quadi. The Roman army 
was in danger of perishing by thirst, but a sudden storei 
drenched them with rain, while it discharged fire and hail 
on their enemies, and the Romans gained a great victory. 
All the authorities which speak of the battle speak also of 
the miracle. The Gentile writers assign it to their gods, and 
the Christians to the intercession of the Christian legion in 
the emperor's army. To confirm the Christian statement it 
is added that the emperor gave the title of Thundering to 
this legion; but Dacier and others who maintain the Chris- 
tian report of the miracle, admit that this title of Thunder- 
ing or Lightnmg was not given to this legion because the 
Quadi were struck with lightning, but because there was a 
figure of lightning on their shields, and that this title of the 
legion existed in the time of Augustus. 

Scaliger also had observed that the legion was called 
Thundering {y.epao\>o^6Xo<Sj or xe^auwo^o^o?) before the reign of 
Antoninus. We learn this from Dion Cassius (Lib. 55, c. 23, 
"and the note ot Reimarus) who enumerates all the legions of 
Augustus' time. The name Thundering or Lightning also 
occurs on an inscription of the reign of Trajan, which was 
found at Trieste. Eusebius (v. 5) when he relates the 
miracle, quotes Apolinarius, bishop of Hierapolis, as 
authority for this name being given to the legion Melitene 
by the emperor in consequence of the success which he QJbr- 


tained through their prayers; from which we may estimate 
the value of Apolinarius' testimony. Eusebius does not say 
in what book of Apolinarius the statement occurs. Dion 
says that the Thundering legion was stationed in Cappadocia 
in the time of Augustus. Valesius also observes that in the 
Notitia of the Imperium Romanum there is mentioned under 
the commander of Armenia the Praefectura of the twelfth 
legion named "Thundering Melitene;" and this position in 
Armenia will agree with what Dion says of its position in 
Cappadocia. Accordingly Valesius concludes that Melitene 
was not the name of the legion, but of the town in which 
it was stationed. Melitene was also the name of the dis- 
trict in which this town was situated. The legions did not, 
he says, take their name from the place where they were on 
duty, but from the country in which they^ were raised, and 
therefore, what Eusebius says about the Melitene does not 
seem probable to him. Yet Valesius on the authority of 
Apolinarius and Tertullian believed that the miracle was 
worked through the prayers of the Christian soldiers in the 
emperor's army. Rufinus does not give the name of Meli- 
tene to this legion, says Valesius, and probably he purposely 
omitted it, because he knew that Melitene was the namxC of 
a town in Armenia Minor, where the legion was stationed 
in his time. 

The emperor, it is said, made a report of his victory to 
the Senate, which we may believe, for such was the practice ; 
but we do not know what he said in his letter, for it is not 
extant. Dacier assumes that the emperor's letter was pur- 
posely destroyed by the Senate or the enemies of Chris- 
tianity, that so honourable a testimony to the Christians and 
their religion might not be perpetuated. The critic has how- 
ever not seen that he contradicts himself when he tells us 
the purport of the letter, for he says that it was destroyed, 
and even Eusebius could not find it. But there does exist 
a letter in Greek addressed by Antoninus to the Roman 
people and the sacred Senate after this memorable victory. 
It is sometimes printed after Justin's first Apology, but rt 
is totally unconnected with the apologies. This letter is one 
of the most stupid forgeries of the many which exist, and 
it cannot be possibly founded even on the genuine report of 


Antoninus to the Senate. If it were genuine, it would free 
the emperor from the charge of persecuting men because 
they were Christians, for he says in this false letter that if 
a man accuse another only of being a Christian and the ac- 
cused confess and there is nothing else against him, he must 
be set free; with this monstrous addition, made by a man 
inconceivably ignorant, that the informer must be burnt 

During the time of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Anto- 
ninus there appeared the first Apology of Justinus, and undec 
M. Antoninus the Oration of Tatian against the Greeks, 
which was a fierce attack on the established religions; the 
address of Athenagoras to M. Antoninus on behalf of the 
Christians, and the Apology of Melito, bishop of Sardes, 
also addressed to the emperor, and that of Apolinarius. The 
first Apology of Justinus is addressed to T. Antoninus Pius 
and his two adopted sons M. Antoninus and L. Verus; but 
we do not know whether they read it.^ The second 
Apology of Justinus is intitled "to the Roman Senate;" but 
this superscription is from some copyist. In the first chap- 
ter Justinus addresses the Romans. In the second chapter he 
speaks of an affair that had recently happened in the time of 
M. Antoninus and L. Verus, as it seems ; and he also directly 
addresses the emperor, saying of a certain woman, "she ad- 
dressed a petition to thee the emperor, and thou didst grant 
the petition." In other passages the writer addresses the 
two emperors, from which we must conclude that the Apol- 
ogy was directed to them. Eusebius (E. H. iv. i8) states 
that the second Apology was addressed to the successor of 
Antoninus Pius, and he names him Antoninus Verus, mean- 
ing M". Antoninus. In one passage of this second Apology 
(c. 8), Justinus, or the writer, whoever he m.ay be, says that 
even men who followed the Stoic doctrines, when they 
ordered their lives according to ethical reason, were hated 
and murdered, such as Heraclitus, Musonius in his own 
times, and others ; for all those who in any way laboured to 
live according to reason and avoided wickedness were always 
hated ; and this was the effect of the work of daemons. 

2 Orosius, VII. 14, says that Justinus the philosopher presented to An- 
toninus Pius his work in defence of the Christian Religion, and made him 
tnerciful to the Christians. 


Justinus himself is said to have been put to death at Rome, 
because he refused to sacrifice to the gods. It cannot have 
been in the reign of Hadrian, as one authority states; nor 
in the time of Antoninus Pius, if the second Apology was 
v/ritten in the time of M. Antoninus; and there is evidence 
that this event took place under M. Antoninus and L. Verus, 
when Rusticus was praefect of the city. 

The persecution in which Polycarp suffered at Smyrna 
belongs to the time of M. Antoninus. The evidence for it 
is the letter of the church of Smyrna to the churches of 
Philomelium and the other Christian churches, and it is pre- 
served by Eusebius (E. H. iv. 15). But the critics do not 
agree about the time of Polycarp's death, differing in the two 
extremes to the amount of twelve years. The circumstances 
of Polycarp's martyrdom were accompanied by miracles, one 
of which Eusebius (iv. 15) has omitted, but it appears in 
the oldest Latin version of the letter, which Usher published, 
and it is supposed that this version was made not long after 
the time of Eusebius. The notice at the end of the letter 
states that it was transcribed by Caius from the copy of 
Irenaeus, the disciple of Polycarp, then transcribed by 
Socrates at Corinth; "after which I Pionius again wrote it 
out from the copy above mentioned, having searched it out 
by the revelation of Polycarp, who directed me to it, etc." 
The story of Polycarp's martyrdom is embellished with 
miraculous circumstances which some modern writers on 
ecclesiastical history take the liberty of omitting.^ 

In order to form a proper notion of the condition of the 
Christians under M. Antoninus we must go back to Trajan's 
time. When the younger Pliny was governor of Bithynia, 
the Christians were numerous in those parts, and the wor- 
shippers of the old religion were falling off. The temples 
were deserted, the festivals neglected, and there were no 
purchasers of victims for sacrifice. Those who were inter- 
ested in the maintenance of the old religion thus found that 

8 Conyers Middleton, "An Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers," etc., p. 
126. Middleton says that Eusebius omitted to mention the dove, which flew 
out of Polycarp's body, and Dodwell and Archbishop Wake have done the 
same. Wake says "I am so little a friend to such miracles that I thought 
it better with Eusebius to omit that circumstance than to mention it from 
Bp. Usher's Manuscript," which manuscript, however, says Middleton, he 
afterwards declares to be so well attested that we need not any further 
assurance of the truth of it. 


their profits were in danger. Christians of both sexes and 
of all ages were brought before the governor, who did not 
know what to do with them. He could come to no other 
conclusion than this, that those who confessed to be Chris- 
tians and persevered in their religion ought to be punished; 
if for nothing else, for their invincible obstinacy. He found 
no crimes proved against the Christians, and he could only 
characterize their religion as a depraved and extravagant 
superstition, which might be stopped, if the people were 
allowed the opportunity of recanting. Pliny wrote this in 
a letter to Trajan (Plinius, Ep. x. 97). He asked for the 
emperor's directions, because he did not know what to do: 
He remarks that he had never been engaged in judicial in- 
quiries about the Christians, and that accordingly he did not 
know what to inquire about or how far to inquire and punish. 
This proves that it was not a new thing to examine into a 
man's profession of Christianity and to punish him for it. 
Trajan's Rescript is extant. He approved of the governor's 
judgment in the matter ; but he said that no search must be 
made after the Christians; if a man was charged with the 
new religion and convicted, he must not be punished if he 
affirmed that he was not a Christian and confirmed his denial 
by showing his reverence to the heathen gods. He added 
that no notice must be taken of anonymous informations, 
for such things were of bad example. Trajan was a mild 
and sensible man, and both motives of mercy and policy 
probably also induced him to take as little notice of the 
Christians as he could; to let them live in quiet, if it were 
possible. Trajan's Rescript is the first legislative act of the 
head of the Roman state with reference to Christianity 
which is known to us. It does not appear that the Chris- 
tians were further disturbed under his reign. The martyr- 
dom of Ignatius by the order of Trajan himself is not uni- 
versally admxitted to be an historical fact.* 

In the time of Hadrian it was no longer possible for the 
Roman government to overlook the great increase of the 
Christians and the hostility of the common sort to them. 
If the governors in the provinces were willing to let them 

■* The Martyrium Ignatii, first published in Latin by Archbishop Usher, 
is the chief evidence for the circumstances of Ignatius' death. 


alone, they could not resist the fanaticism of the heathen 
community, who looked on the Christians as atheists. The 
Jews, too, who were settled all over the Roman Empire, v/ere 
as hostile to the Christians as the Gentiles were.^ With the 
time of Hadrian begin the Christian Apologies, which show 
' plainly what the popular feeling towards the Christians then 
was, A rescript of Hadrian to Minucius Fundanus, the 
Proconsul of Asia, which stands at the end of Justin's first 
Apology," instructs the governor that innocent people must 
not be troubled, and false accusers must not be allowed to 
extort money from them; the charges against the Christians 
must be made in due form, and no attention must be paid to 
popular clamours ; when Christians v/ere regularly prosecuted 
and convicted of illegal acts, they must be punished accord- 
ing to their deserts ; and false accusers also must be punished. 
■Antoninus Pius is said to have published Rescripts to the 
same effect. The terms of Hadrian's Rescript seem very 
favourable to the Christians ; but if we understand it in this 
sense, that they were only to be punished like other people 
'for illegal acts, it would have had no meaning, for that 
could have been done without asking the emperor's advice. 
The real purpose of the Rescript is that Christians must be 
punished if they persisted in their belief, and would not 
prove their renunciation of it by acknowledging the heathen 
religion. This was Trajan's rule, and we have no reason 
for supposing that Hadrian granted more to the Christians 
than Trajan did. There is also printed at the end of Jus- 
tin's first Apology a Rescript of Antoninus Pius to the Com- 
mune of Asia (to xoivov T^g 'Aijiag), and it is also in Eusebius 
|(E. H. IV. 13). The date of the Rescript is the third con- 
isulship of Antoninus Pius. The Rescript declares that the 
Christians, for they are meant, though the name Christians 

^We have the evidence of Justinus (ad Diognetum, c. 5) to this effect: 
''the Christians are attacked by the Jews as if they were men of a different 
race, and are persecuted by the Greeks; and those who hate them caxmot 
give the reason of their enmity." 

^ And in Eusebius, E. H. iv. 8, 9. Orosius (vii. 13) says that Hadrian 
sent the rescript to Minucius Fundanus, proconsul of Asia, after being in- 
structed in bocks written on the Christian religion by Quadratus, a disciple 
of the Apostles, and Aristides, an Athenian, an honest and wise man, and 
Serenus Granius. In the Greek text of Hadrian's rescript there is men- 
tioned Serenius Granianus, the predecessor of Minucius Fundanus in the 
government of Asia. 

This rescript of Hadrian has clearly been added to the Apology hy some 
editor. The Apology ends v/ith the words: o <|>iAoi' tw eew, toSto •yes'effSw. 


does not occur in the Rescript, were not to be disturbed un- 
less they were attempting something against the Roman rule, 
and no man was to be punished simply for being a Christian. 
But this Rescript is spurious. Any man moderately ac- 
quainted with Roman history will see by the style and tenor 
that it is a clumsy forgery. 

In the time of M. Antoninus the opposition between the 
old and tlie new belief was still stronger, and the adherents 
of the heathen religion urged those in authority to a more 
regular resistance to the invasions of the Christian faith. 
Melito in his apology to M. Antoninus represents the Chris- 
tians of Asia as persecuted under new imperial orders. 
Shameless informers, he says, men v/ho were greedy after 
the property of others, used these orders as a means of rob- 
bing those who were doing no harm. He doubts if a just 
emperor could have ordered anything so unjust; and if the 
last order was really not from the emperor, the Christians 
entreat him not to give them up to their enemies. We con- 
clude from this that there were at least imperial Rescripts 
or Constitutions of M. Antoninus, which were made the 
foundation of these persecutions. The fact of being a Chris- 
tian was now a crime and punished, unless the accused denied 
their religion. Then come the persecutions at Smyrna, 
which some modern critics place in a.d. 167, ten years before 
the persecution of Lyon. The governors of the provinces 
under M. Antoninus might have found enough even in 
Trajan's Rescript to warrant them in punishing Christians, 
and the fanaticism of the people would drive them to perse- 
cution, even if they were unwilling. But besides the fact 
of the Christians rejecting all the heathen ceremonies, we 
must not forget that they plainly maintained that all the 
heathen religions were false. The Christians thus declared 
war against the heathen rites, and it is hardly necessary to 
observe that this was a declaration of hostility against the 
Roman government, which tolerated all the various forms 
of superstition that existed in the empire, and could not con- 
sistently tolerate another religion, which declared that all the 
rest were false and all the splendid ceremonies of the empire 
only a worship of devils. 

If we had a true ecclesiastical history, we should know 


how the Roman emperors attempted to check the new re- 
ligion, how they enforced their principle of finally punish- 
ing Christians, simply as Christians, which Justin in his 
Apology affirms that they did, and I have no doubt that he 
tells the truth; how far popular clamour and riots went in 
this matter, and how far many fanatical and ignorant Chris- 
tians, for there were many such, contributed to excite the 
fanaticism on the other side and to embitter the quarrel be- 
tween the Roman government and the new religion. Our ex- 
tant ecclesiastical histories are manifestly falsified, and Vv^hat 
truth they contain is grossly exaggerated; but the fact is 
certain that in the time of M. Antoninus the heathen popu- 
lations were m open hostility to the Christians, and that 
under Antoninus' rule men were put to death because they 
were Christians. Eusebius in the preface to his fifth book 
remarks that in the seventeenth year of Antoninus* reign, in 
some parts of the world the persecution of the Christians 
became more violent and that it proceeded from the populace 
in the cities; and he adds in his usual style of exaggeration, 
that we may infer from what took place in a single nation 
that myriads of martyrs were made in the habitable earth. 
The nation which he alludes to is Gallia; and he then pro- 
ceeds to give the letter of the churches of Vienna and Lug- 
dunum. It is probable that he has assigned the true cause 
of the persecutions, the fanaticism of the populace, and that 
both governors and emperor had a great deal of trouble with 
these disturbances. How far Marcus was cognizant of these 
cruel proceedings we do not know, for the historical records 
of his reign are very defective. He did not make the rule 
against the Christians, for Trajan did that; and if we admit 
that he would have been willing to let the Christians alone, 
we cannot affirm that it was in his power, for it would be a 
great mistake to suppose that Antoninus had the unlimited 
authority, which some modern sovereigns have had. His 
power was limited by certain constitutional forms, by the 
senate, and by the precedents of his predecessors. We can- 
not admit that such a man was an active persecutor,^ for 

'' Except that of Oroslus (vii. 15), wlio says that during the Parthian 
war there were grievous persecutions of the Christians in Asia and Gallia 
under the orders of Marcus Cpraecepto ejus), and "many were crowneii 
with the martyrdom of saints." 


there is no evidence that he was, though it is certain that 
he had no good opinion of the Christians, as appears from 
his own words. But he knew nothing of them except their 
hostihty to the religion, and he probably thought that 
they were dangerous to the state, notwithstanding the pro- 
fessions false or true of some of the Apologists. So much 
I have said, because it would be unfair not to state all that 
can be urged against a man whom his contemporaries and 
subsequent ages venerated as a model of virtue and benevo- 
lence. If I admitted the genuineness of some documents, he 
would be altogether clear from the charge of even allowing 
any persecutions; but as I seek the truth and am sure that 
they are false, 'I leave him to bear whatever blame is his 
due.* I add that it is quite certain that Antoninus did not 
derive any of his Ethical principles from a religion of which 
he knew nothing.^ 

There is no doubt that, the Emperor's "Reflections" or his 
"Meditations," as they are generally named, is a genuine 
work. In the first book he speaks of himself, his family, and 
his teachers ; and in other books he mentions himself. Suidas 
(v. i/a^xo?), notices a work of Antoninus in twelve books, 
which he names the "conduct of his own life;" and he cites 
the book under several words in his Dictionary, giving the 
emperor's name, but not the title of the work. There are 
also passages cited by Suidas from Antoninus without men- 
tion of the emperor's name. The true title of the work is 
unknown. Xy lander who published the first edition of this 
book (Ziirich, 1558, 8vo.) with a Latin version, used a 
manuscript, which contained the twelve books, but it is not 
known where the manuscript is now. The only other com- 
plete manuscript which is known to exist is in the Vatican 
library, but it has no title and no inscriptions of the several 
books: the eleventh only has the inscription Mdpxoo auroxpd- 
ropo<s marked with an asterisk The other Vatican manu- 
scripts and the three Florentine contain only excerpts from 

^ Dr, F. C. Baur in his work entitled "Das Christenthum und die 
Christliche Kirche der drei ersten Jahrhunderte," etc., has examined this 
question with great good sense and fairness, and I believe he has stated 
^he truth as near as our authorities enable us to reach it. 

* In the Digest, 48, 19, 30, there is the following excerpt from Modesti- 
nus: "Si quis aiiquid fecerit, quo leves hominum animi superstitione numi- 
nis terrerentur, divus Marcus hujusmodi homines ia insulam relegari 

11 HC— Vol. 2 


the emperor's book. AH the titles of the excerpts nearly 
agree with that which Xylander prefixed to his edition Mdpxo9 
^Avt(jDv(voo AuToxpdropo? raiv ei? iaozov ^i^X(a tjS. This title 
has been used by all subsequent editors. We cannot tell 
whether Antoninus divided his work into books or some- 
body else did it. If the inscriptions at the end of the 
first and second books are genuine, he may have made the 
division himself. 

It is plain that the emperor wrote down his thoughts or 
reflections as the occasions arose; and since they were in- 
tended for his o~wn use, it is no improbable conjecture that 
he left a complete copy behind him written with his own 
hand ; for it is not likely that so diligent a man would use the 
labour of a transcriber for such a purpose, and expose his 
most secret thoughts to any other eye. He may have also 
intended the book for his son Commodus, who however had 
no taste for his father's philosophy. Some careful hand 
preserved the precious volume; and a work by Antoninus 
is mentioned by other late writers besides Suidas. 

Many critics have laboured on the text of Antoninus. 
The most complete edition is that by Thomas Gataker, 1652, 
4to. The second edition of Gataker was superintended by 
George Stanhope, 1697, 4to. There is also an edition of 
1704. Gataker made and suggested many good corrections, 
and he also made a new Latin version, which is not a very 
good specimen of Latin, but it generally expresses the sense 
of the original and often better than some-of the more recent 
translations. He added in the margin opposite to each para- 
graph references to the other parallel passages ; and he wrote 
a commentary, one of the most com.plete that has been writ- 
ten on any ancient author. This commentary contains the 
editor's exposition of the m.ore difficult passages, and quo- 
tations from, all the Greek and Roman writers for the illus- 
tration of the text. It is a wonderful monument of learning 
and labour, and certainly no Englishman has yet done any- 
thing like it. At the end of his preface the editor says that 
he wrote it at Rotherhithe near London in a severe winter, 
when he was in the seventy-eighth year of his age, 1651, a 
time when Milton, Selden and other great men of the Com- 
fnonwealth time were living; and the great French scholar 


Saumaise (Salmasius), with whom Gataker corresponded 
and received help from him for his edition of Antoninus. 
The Greek text has also been edited by J. M. Schultz, Leip- 
zig, 1802, 8vo. ; and by the learned Greek Adamantinus 
Corais, Paris, 1816, 8vo. The text of Schultz was republished 
by Tauchnitz, 1821. 

There are English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish 
translations of M. Antoninus, and there may be others. I 
have not seen all the English translations. There is one by 
Jeremy Collier, 1702, 8vo., a most coarse and vulgar copy of 
the original. The latest French translation by Alexis Pier- 
ron in the collection of Charpentier is better than Dacier's, 
which has been honoured with an Italian version (Udine, 
1772). There is an Italian version (1675) which I have not 
seen. It is by a cardinal. "A man illustrious in the church, 
the Cardinal Francis Barberini the elder, nephew of Pope 
Urban VIII., occupied the last years of his life in translating 
into his native language the thoughts of the Roman emperor, 
in order to diffuse among the faithful the fertilizing and 
vivifying seeds. He dedicated this translation to his soul, 
to make it, as he says in his energetic style, redder than his 
purple at the sight of the virtues of this Gentile" (Pierron, 

I have made this translation at intervals after having used 
the book for many years. It is made from the Greek, but 
I have not always followed one text ; and I have occasionally 
compared other versions with my own. I made this transla- 
tion for my own use, because I found that it was worth the 
labour; but it may be useful to others also and therefore I 
determined to print it. As the original is sometimes very 
difficult to understand and still more difficult to translate, it 
is not possible that I have always avoided error. But I be- 
lieve that I have not often missed the meaning, and those 
who will take the trouble to compare the translation with the 
original should not hastily conclude that I am wrong, if 
they do not agree with me. Some passages do give the 
meaning, though at first sight they may not appear to do so ; 
and when I differ from the translators, I think that in some 
places they are wrong, and in other places I am sure that 
thejr are. I have placed in some passages a f , which indi- 


cates corruption in the text or great uncertainty in the 
meaning. I could have made the language more easy and 
flowing, but I have preferred a ruder style as being better 
suited to express the character of the original; and some- 
times the obscurity which may appear in the version is a 
fair copy of the obscurity of the Greek. If I have not given 
the best words for the Greek, I have done the best that I 
could ; and in the text I have always given the same transla- 
tion of the sam.e word. 

The last reflection of the Stoic philosophy that I have 
observed is in Simplicius' "Commentary on the Enchiridion 
of Epictetus." Simplicius was not a Christian, and such a 
man was not likely to be converted at a time when Chris- 
tianity was grossly corrupted. But he was a really religious 
man, and he concludes his commentary with a prayer to the 
Deity which no Christian could improve. From the time of 
Zeno to Simplicius, a period of about nine hundred years, 
the Stoic philosophy formed the characters of some of the 
best and greatest men. Finally it became extinct, and we 
hear no more of it till the revival of letters in Italy. Angelo 
Poliziano met with two very inaccurate and incomplete 
manuscripts of Epictetus' Enchiridion, which he translated 
into Latin and dedicated to his great patron Lorenzo de' 
Medici in whose collection he had found the book. Poli- 
ziano's version was printed in the first Bale edition of the 
Enchiridion, a.d. 1531 (apud And. Cratandrum). Poliziano 
recommends the Enchiridion to Lorenzo as a work well 
suited to his temper, and useful in the difficulties by which 
he was surrounded. 

Epictetus and Antoninus have had readers ever since they 
were first printed. The little book of Antoninus has been 
the companion of some great men. Machiavelli's "Art of 
War" and "Marcus Antoninus" were the two books which 
were used when he was a young man by Captain John Smith, 
and he could not have found two writers better fitted to form 
the character of a soldier and a man. Smith is almost un- 
known and forgotten in England his native country, but not 
in America where he saved the young colony of Virginia. 
He was great in his heroic mind and his deeds in arms, but 
greater still in the nobleness of his character. For a man's 


greatness lies not in wealth and station, as the vulgar be- 
lieve, nor yet in his intellectual capacity, which is often asso- 
ciated with the meanest moral character, the most abject 
servility to those in high places and arrogance to the poor 
and lowly; but a man's true greatness lies in the conscious-, 
ness of an honest purpose in life, founded on a just estimate 
of himself and everything else, on frequent self-examina- 
tion, and a steady obedience to the rule which he knows to be 
right, without troubling himself, as the emperor says he 
should not, about what others may think or say, or whether 
they do or do not do that which he thinks and says and does. 


IT has been said that the Stoic philosophy first showed 
its real value v/hen it passed from Greece to Rome. The 
doctrines of Zeno and his successors were well suited to 
the gravity and practical good sense of the Romans; and 
even in the Republican period we have an example of a man, 
M. Cato Uticensis, who lived the life of a Stoic and died 
consistently with the opinions which he professed. He was 
a man, says Cicero, who embraced the Stoic philosophy from 
conviction; not for the purpose of vain discussion, as most 
did, but in order to make his life conformable to the Stoic 
precepts. In the wretched times from the death of Augustus 
to the murder of Domitian, there was nothing but the Stoic 
philosophy which could console and support the followers of 
the old religion under imperial tyranny and amidst universal 
corruption. There were even then noble minds that could 
dare and endure, sustained by a good conscience and an ele- 
vated idea of the purposes of man's existence. Such were 
Paetus Thrasea, Helvidius Priscus, Cornutus, C. Musonius 
Rufus,* and the poets Persius and Juvenal, whose energetic 
language and manly thoughts may be as instructive to us 
now as they might have been to their contemporaries, Per- 
sius died under Nero's bloody reign, but Juvenal had the 
good fortune to survive the tyrant Domitian and to see the 

*I have omitted Seneca, Nero's preceptor. He was in a sens® a Stoic 
and he has said many good things in a very fine way. There is a judgment 
of Gellius (xii. 2) on Seneca, or rather a statement of what some people 
thought of his philosophy, and it is not favourable. His writings and his 
life must be taken together, and I have nothing more to say of him here. 
The reader will find a notice of Seneca and his philosophy in *'SeekefS 
after God,'* by the Kev, Fo W, Farraxo Macmillan and Co. 


better times of Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian,^ His best pre- 
cepts are derived from the. Stoic school, and they are en- 
forced in his finest verses by the unrivalled vigour of the 
Latin language. 

The two best expounders of the later Stoical philosophy 
were a Greek slave and a Roman emperor, Epictetus, a 
Phrygian Greek, vv^as brought to Rome, we know not how, 
but he was there the slave and afterwards the freedman of 
an unworthy master, Epaphroditus by name, himself a freed- 
man and a favourite of Nero. Epictetus may have been a 
hearer of C. Musonius Rufus, while he was still a slave, but 
he could hardly have been a teacher before he was made 
free. He was one of the philosophers whom Domitian's 
order banished from Rome. He retired to Nicopolis in 
Epirus, and he may have died there. Like other great 
teachers he wrote nothing, and we are indebted to his grate- 
ful pupil Arrian for what we have of Epictetus' discourses. 
Arrian wrote eight books of the discourses of Epictetus, of 
which only four remain and somx fragments. We have also 
from Arrian's hand the small Enchiridion or Manual of the 
chief precepts of Epictetus. There is a valuable commen- 
tary on the Enchiridion by Simplicius, who lived in the time 
of the emperor Justinian.* 

Antoninus in his first book (1.7), in which he gratefully 
commemorates his obligations to his teachers, says that he was 
m.ade acquainted by Junius Rusticus with the discourses of 
Epictetus, whom he mentions also in other passages (iv. 41; 
XI. 34. 36). Indeed the doctrines of Epictetus and Anto- 
ninus are the samiC, and Epictetus is the best authority for 
the explanation of the philosophical language of Antoninus 
and the exposition of his opinions. But the method of the 
two philosophers is entirely different. Epictetus addressed 
himself to his hearers in a continuous discourse and in a 
familiar and simple m.anner. Antoninus wrote down his re- 
flections for his own use only, in short unconnected para- 
graphs, which are often obscure. 

2Ribbeck has laboured to prove that those Satires, which contaia phi]o« 
sophical precepts, are not the work of the real, but of a false Juvenal, a 
Declamator. ^ Still the verses exist, and were written by somebody who was 
acquainted with the Stoic doctrines. 

3There is a complete edition of Arrian's Epictetus with the commentary 
»i Simplicius by J. Schweighauser, 6 vols. 8vo. 1799. iSoo. 


The Stoics made three divisions of philosophy, Physic 
(^u<Tr/.d>)^ Ethic (:j9cz6>)^ and Logic (Ao^cxdv) (viii. 13). This 
division, we are told by Diogenes, vv^as made by Zeno of 
Citium, the founder of the Stoic sect and by Chrysippus; but 
these philosophers placed the three divisions in the following 
order. Logic, Physic, Ethic. It appears however that this 
division was made before Zeno's time and acknowledged by 
Plato, as Cicero remarks (Acad. Post. i. 5). Logic is not 
synonymous with our term Logic in the' narrower sense of 
that word. 

Cleanthes, a Stoic, subdivided the three divisions, and made 
six: Dialectic and Rhetoric, comprised in Logic; Ethic and 
Politic; Physic and Theology. This division was merely for 
practical use, for all Philosophy is one. Even among the 
earliest Stoics Logic or Dialectic does not occupy the same 
place as in Plato : it is considered only as an instrument 
which is to be used for the other divisions of Philosophy. 
An exposition of the earlier Stoic doctrines and of their 
modifications would require a volume. My object is to ex- 
plain only the opimons of Antoninus, so far as they can be 
collected from his book. 

According to the subdivision of Cleanthes Physic and 
Theology go together, or the study of the nature of Things, 
and the study of the nature of the Deity, so far as man can 
understand the Deity, and of his government of the universe. 
This division or subdivision is not formally adopted by Anto- 
ninus, for as already observed, there is no method in his 
book; but it is virtually contained in it. 

Cleanthes also connects Ethic and Politic, or the study of 
the principles of morals and the study of the constitution of 
civil society; and undoubtedly he did well in subdividing 
Ethic into tv/o parts, Ethic in the narrower sense and Poli- 
tic, for though the two are intimately connected, they are 
also very distinct, and many questions can only be properly 
discussed by carefully observing the distinction. Antoninus 
does not treat of Politic. Llis subject is Ethic, and Ethic 
in its practical application to his own conduct in life as a 
man and as a governor. His Ethic is founded on his doc- 
trines about man's nature, the Universal Nature, and the re- 
lation of every man to everything else. It is therefore inti- 


tnately and inseparably connected with Physic or the nature 
of Things and with Theology or the Nature of the Deity. 
He advises us to examine well all the impressions on our 
minds (^avTaaiai) and to form a right judgment of them, to 
make just conclusions, and to inquire into the meanings of 
words, and so far to apply Dialectic, but he has no attempt 
at any exposition of Dialectic, and his philosophy is in sub- 
stance purely moral and practical. He says (viii. 13), 
"Constantly and, if it be possible, on the occasion of every 
impression on the soul, apply to it the principle of Physic, 
of Ethic and of Dialectic:" which is only another way of 
telling us to examine the impression in every possible way. 
In another passage (iii. 11) he says, "To the aids which have 
been mentioned let this one still be added: make for thyself 
a definition or description of the object (ro <pavra<jr6v) which 
is presented to thee, so as to see distinctly what kind of a 
thing it is in its substance, in its nudity, in its complete en- 
tirety, and tell thyself its proper name, and the names of the 
things of which it has been compounded, and into which it 
will be resolved." Such an examination implies a use of 
Dialectic, which Antoninus accordingly employed as a means 
towards establishing his Physical, Theological and Ethical 

There are several expositions of the Physical, Theological, 
and Ethical principles, which are contained in the work of 
Antoninus; and more expositions than I hare read. Ritter 
("Geschichte der Philosophic," iv. 241) after explaining 
the doctrines of Epictetus, treats very briefly and insuffi- 
ciently those of Antoninus. But he refers to a short essay, 
in which the work is done better.^ There is also an essay 
on the Philosophical Principles of M. Aurelius Antoninus by 
J. M. Schultz, placed at the end of his German translation 
of Antoninus (Schleswig, 1799). With the assistance of 
these two useful essays and his own diligent study a man may 
form a sufficient notion of the principles of Antoninus; but 
he will find it more difficult to expound them to others. Be- 
sides the want of arrangement in the original and of connec- 
tion am_ong the numerous paragraphs, the corruption of the 

- "De Marco Aurelio Antonino . . ex ipsitis Commentariis. Scriptio 
Ehiiologica." Instituit Nicolaus Bachius, Lipsiae, 1826. 


text, the obscurity of the language and the style, and some- 
times perhaps the confusion in the writer's own ideas, — 
besides all this there is occasionally an apparent contradic- 
tion in the emperor's thoughts, as if his principles were some- 
times unsettled, as if doubt sometimes clouded his mind. A 
man who leads a life of tranquillity and reflection, who is 
not disturbed at home and meddles not with the affairs of the 
world, may keep his mind at ease and his thoughts in one 
even course. But such a man has not been tried. All his 
Ethical philosophy and his passive virtue might turn out to 
be idle words, if he were once exposed to the rude realities 
of human existence. Fine thoughts and moral dissertations 
from men who have not worked and suffered may be read, 
but they will be forgotten. No religion, no Ethical philos- 
ophy is worth anything, if the teacher has not lived the ''life 
of an apostle," and been ready to die "the death of a 
martyr." "Not in passivity (the passive effects) but m 
activity lie the evil and the good of the rational social animal, 
just as his virtue and his vice lie not in passivity, but in 
activity" (ix. i6). The emperor Antoninus was a practical 
moralist. From his youth he followed a laborious discipline, 
and though his high station placed him above all v/ant or the 
fear of it, he lived as frugally and temperately as the poorest 
philosopher. Epictetus wanted little, and it seems that he 
always had the little that he wanted and he was content with 
it, as he had been with his servile station. But Antoninus 
after his accession to the empire sat on an uneasy seat. He 
had the administration of an empire which extended from the 
Euphrates to the Atlantic, from the cold mountains of Scot- 
land to the hot sands of Africa ; and we may imagine, though 
we cannot know it by experience, what must be the trials, 
the troubles, the anxiety and the sorrows of him who has the 
world's business on his hands with the wish to do the best 
that he can, and the certain knowledge that he can do very 
little of the good which he wishes. 

In the midst of war, pestilence, conspiracy, general cor- 
ruption and with the weight of so unwieldy an empire upon 
him, we may easily comprehend that Antoninus often had 
need of all his fortitude to support him. The best and the 
bravest men have moments of doubt and of weakness, but if 


they are the best and the bravest, they rise again from their 
depression by recurring to first principles, as Antoninus does. 
The emperor says that life is smoke, a vapour, and St. James 
in his Epistle is of the same mind; that the world is full of 
envious, jealous, malignant people, and a man might be well 
content to get out of it. He has doubts perhaps sometimes 
even about that to which he holds most firmly. There are 
only a few passages of this kind, but they are evidence of the 
struggles which even the noblest of the sons of men had to 
maintain against the hard realities of his daily life. A poor 
remark it is which I have seen som.ewhere, and made in a 
disparaging way, that the emperor's reflections show that he 
had need of consolation and comfort in life, and even to 
prepare him to meet his death. True that he did need com- 
fort and support, and we see how he found it. He constantly 
recurs to his fundamental principle that the universe is 
wisely ordered, that every man is a part of it and must con- 
form to that order which he cannot change, that v/hatever 
the Deity has done is good, that all mankind are a mean's 
brethren, that he must love and cherish them and try to 
make them better, even those who v/ould do him harm. 
This is his conclusion (ii, 17) : "What then is that which is 
able to conduct a man ? One thing and only one. Philosophy. 
But this consists in keeping the divinity within a man free 
from violence and unharmed, superior to pains and pleasures, 
doing nothing without a purpose nor yet falsely and with 
hypocrisy, nor feeling the need of another man's doing or 
not doing anything; and besides, accepting all that happens 
and all that Is allotted, as coming from thence, wherever it 
is, from whence he himself came; and finally waiting for 
death with a cheerful mind as being nothing else than a dis- 
solution of the elem^ents, of which every living being is com- 
pounded. But if there is no harm to the elements them- 
selves in each continually changing into another, why should 
a man have any apprehension about the change and dis- 
solution of all the elements [himself] ? for it is accord- 
ing to nature; and nothing is evil that is according to 

The Physic of Antoninus is the knowledge of the Nature 
of the Universe, of its government, and of the relation of 


man's nature to both. He names the universe {y] rcDv oXmv ohaioy 
VI. i), "the universal substance," and he adds that "reason" 
{Xoyo^) governs the universe. He also (vi. 9) uses the terms 
"universal nature" or "nature of the universe." He (vi. 25) 
calls the universe "the one and all, which we name Cosmus 
or Order" {xoaiio^y If he ever seems to use these general 
terms as significant of the All, of all that man can in any 
way conceive to exist, he still on other occasions plainly dis- 
tinguishes between Matter, Material things {oXtj^ hXixov)^ and 
Cause, Origin, Reason (ahia^ ahicBde?, Xoyo?). This is con- 
formable to Zeno's doctrine that there are two original 
principles (a^/a:') of all things, that w^hich acts (ro ttocow) and 
that which is acted upon (rd Ttdd^^ov). That which is acted on is 
the formless matter {oXr^) that M^hich acts is the reason {X6yo<s)^ 
God, who is eternal and operates through all matter, and 
produces all things. So Antoninus (v. 32) speaks of the 
reason (Aw^'o?) which pervades all substance (^ovaia)^ and 
through all time by fixed periods (revolutions) administers 
the universe {rb Tcav). God is eternal, and Matter is eternal. 
It is God who gives form to matter, but he is not said to have 
created matter. According to this view, which is as old as 
Anaxagoras, God and matter exist independently, but God 
governs matter. This doctrine is simply the expression of 
the fact of the existence both of matter and of God. The 
Stoics did not perplex themselves with the insoluble ques- 
tion of the origin and nature of matter. Antoninus also 
assumes a beginning of things, as we now know them; but 
his language is sometimes very obscure. I have endeavoured 
to explain the meaning of one difficult passage, (vii. 75, 
and the note.) 

Matter consists of elemental parts (ffrot^sTa) of which all 
material objects are made. But nothing is permanent in 
form. The nature of the universe, according to Antoninus, 
Expression (iv. 36), "loves nothing so much as to change the 
things which are, and to make new things like them. For 
everything that exists is in a manner the see'd of that which 
will be. But thou art thinking only of seeds which are cast 
into the earth or into a womb: but this is a very vulgar 
notion." All things then are in a constant flux and change: 
some things are dissolved into the elements, others come in 


their places; and so the "whole universe continues ever 
young and perfect." (xii. 23.) 

Antoninus has some obscure expressions about what he calls 
^'seminal principles" {ffaspfiaruoi Xoyoc). He opposes them 
to the Epicurean atoms (vi. 24), and consequently his "semi- 
nal principles" are not material atoms which wander about 
at hazard, and com.bine nobody knows how. In one passage 
(iv. 21) he speaks of living principles, souls (^y;/ a)) after the 
dissolution of their bodies being received into the "seminal 
principle of the universe." Schultz thinks that by "seminal 
principles Antoninus means the relations of the various ele- 
mental principles, which relations are determined by the deity 
and by which alone the production of organized beings is 
possible." This may be the meaning, but if it is, nothing of 
any value can be derived from it. Antoninus often uses the 
word "Nature" (^ipufft?), and we must attempt to fix its mean- 
ing. The simple etymological sense of fU(n<s is "production," 
the birth of what we call Things, The Romans used Natura, 
which also means "birth" originally. But neither the Greeks 
. nor the Romans stuck to this simple meaning, nor do w^e. 
Antoninus says (x. 6) : "Whether the universe is [a con- 
course of] atoms or Nature [is a system], let this first be 
established that I am a part of the whole which is governed 
by nature." Here it might seem as if nature were personi- 
fied and viewed as an active, efficient power, as something 
which, if not independent of the Deity, acts by a power 
which is given to it by the Deity. Such, if I understand the 
expression right, is the way in which the word Nature is 
often used now, though it is plain that many writers use ttfe 
word without fixing any exact m.eaning to it. It is the same 
with the expression Laws of Nature, which some writers 
may use in an intelligible sense, but others as clearly use in 
no definite sense at all. There is no meaning in this word 
Nature, except that which Bishop Butler assigns to it, when 
he says, "The only distinct meaning of that word Natural is 
Stated, Fixed or Settled; since what is natural as much re- 
quires and presupposes, an intelligent agent to render it so, 
i.e. to effect it continually or at stated times, as what is super- 
natural or miraculous does to effect it at once." This is 
Plato's meaning (De Leg. iv. 715), when he says, that God 


holds the beginning and end and middle of all that exists, and 
proceeds straight on his course, making his circuit ac- 
cording to nature (that is, by a fixed order) ; and he is 
continually accompanied by justice who punishes those who 
deviate from the divine law, that is, from the order or course 
which God observes. 

When we look at the motions of the planets, the action 
of what we call gravitation, the elemental combination of 
unorganized bodies and their resolution, the production of 
plants and of living bodies, their generation, growth, and 
their dissolution, which we call their death, we observe a 
regular sequence of phaenomena, which within the limits of 
experience present and past, so far as we know the past, is 
fixed and invariable. But if this is not so, if the order and 
sequence of phaenomena, as known to us, are subject to 
change in the course of an infinite progression, — and such 
change is conceivable, — we have not discovered, nor shall 
we ever discover, the whole of the order and sequence of 
phaenomena, in which sequence there may be involved ac- 
cording to its very nature, that is, according to its fixed 
order, some variation of what we now call the Order or 
Nature of Things. It is also conceivable that such changes 
have taken place, changes in the order of things, as we are 
compelled by the imperfection of language to call them, but 
which are no changes; and further it is certain, that our 
knowledge of the true sequence of all actual phaenomena, as 
for instance, the phaenomena of generation, growth, and dis- 
solution, is and ever must be imperfect. 

We do not fare much better when we speak of Causes and 
Effects than when we speak of Nature. For the practical 
purposes of life we may use the terms cause and effect con- 
veniently, and we may fix a distinct meaning to them, dis- 
tinct enough at least to prevent all misunderstanding. But 
the case is different when we speak of causes and effects as 
of Things. All that we know is phaenomena, as the Greeks 
call them, or appearances which follow one another in a 
regular order, as we conceive it, so that if some one phae- 
nomenon should fail in the series, we conceive that there 
must either be an interruption of the series, or that some- 
, thing else will appear after the phaenomenon which has 


failed to appear, and will occupy the vacant place ; and so the 
series in its progression may be modified or totally changed. 
Cause and effect then mean nothing in the sequence of natural 
phaenomena beyond what I have said; and the real cause, 
or the transcendent cause, as some would call it, of each 
successive phaenomenon is in that which is the cause of all 
things which are, which have been, and which will be for 
ever. ^Thus the word Creation may have a real sense if we 
consider it as the first, if we can conceive a first, in the 
present order of natural phaenomena; but in the vulgar 
sense a creation of all things at a certain time, followed by 
a quiescence of the first cause and an abandonment of all 
sequences of Phaenomena to the laws of Nature, or to the 
other words that people may use, is absolutely absurd.* 

Now, though there is great difficulty in understanding all 
the passages of Antoninus, in which he speaks of Nature, of 
the changes of things, and of the economy of the universe, I 
am convinced that his sense of Nature and Natural is the 
same as that which I have stated ; and as he was a man who 
knew how to use words in a clear way and with strict con- 
sistency, we ought to assume, even if his meaning in some 
, passages is doubtful, that his view of Nature was in har- 
mony with his fixed belief in the all-pervading, ever present, 
and ever active energy of God. (ii. 4; iv. 40; x. i ; vi. 40; 
and other passages. Compare Seneca, De Benef., iv. 7. 
Swedenborg, "Angelic Wisdom," 349-357.) 

There is much in Antoninus that is hard to understand, 
and it might be said that he did not fully comprehend all 
that he wrote; which would however be in no way re- 
markable, for it happens now that a man may write v/hat: 
neither he nor anybody can understand. Antoninus tells us 
(xii. 10) to look at things and see what they are, resolving 
them into the material {oXt))^ the causal (al'Ttov)^ and the rela- 

^Time and space are the conditions of our thought; but time infinite 
and space infinite cannot be objects of thought, except in a very imperfect 
way. Time and space must not in any way be thought of, when v/e think 
of the Deity. Swedenborg says, "The natural man may believe that he 
would have no thought, if the ideas of time, of space, and of things ma- 
terial were taken away; for upon those is founded all the thought that 
man has. But let him know that the thoughts are limited and confined in 
proportion as they partake of time, of space, and of what is material; and 
that they are not limited and are extended, in proportion as they do not 
partake of those things; since the mind is so far elevated above the things 
corporeal and v/orldly."— ("Concersing Heaven and Hell," 169.) 


tion {ava<popd), or the purpose, by which he seems to mean 
something in the nature of what we call effect, or' end. 
The word Cause (^ahca) is the difficulty. There is the 
same word in the Sanscrit {hetu) ; and the subtle philoso- 
phers of India and of Greece, and the less subtle philosophers 
of modern times, have all used this word, or an equivalent 
word, in a vague way. Yet the confusion sometimes may 
be in the inevitable am-biguity of language rather than in the 
mind of the writer, for I cannot think that some of the 
wisest of men did not know what they intended to say. 
When Antoninus says (iv. 36), "that everything that exists 
is in a manner the seed of that which will be,''' he might be 
supposed to say what some of the Indian philosophers have 
said, and thus a profound truth might be converted into a 
gross absurdity. But he says, "in a manner," and in a man- 
ner he said true ; and in a.nother manner, if you mistake his 
meaning, he said false. When Plato said, "Nothing ever is, 
but is always becoming" (ds). ytyveTai)^ he delivered a text, out 
of which we may derive something; for he destroys by it not 
all practical, but all speculative notions of cause and effect. 
The whole series of things, as they appear to us, must be 
contemplated in time, that is, in succession, and we conceive 
or suppose intervals between one state of things and another 
state of things, so that there is priority and sequence, and 
interval, and Being, and a ceasing to Be, and beginning and 
ending. But there is nothing of the kind in the Nature of 
Things. It is an everlasting continuity, (iv. 45; vii. 75,) 
When Antoninus speaks of generation (x. 26), he speaks of 
one cause (alria) acting, and then another cause taking up 
the work, which the former left in a certain state, and so 
on; and we might conceive that he had some notion like 
what has been called "the self-evolving power of nature;" a 
fine phrase indeed, the full import of which I believe that 
the writer of it did not see, and thus he laid himself open to 
the imputation of being a follower of one of the Hindu sects, 
which makes all things come by evolution out of nature or 
matter, or out of something which takes the place of Deity, 
but is not Deity. I would have all men think as they please, 
or as they can, and I only claim the same freedom which I 
live. When a man writes anything, we may fairly try to 


find out all that his words must mean, even if the result is 
that they mean what he did not mean; and if we find this 
contradiction, it is not our fault, but his misfortune. Now 
Antoninus is perhaps somewhat in this condition in what he 
says (x. 26),. though he speaks at the end of the paragraph 
of the power which acts, unseen by the eyes, but still no less 
clearly. But whether in this passage (x. 26) he means that 
the power is conceived to be in the different successive 
causes (^ahtac')^ or in something else, nobody c3-n tell. From 
other passages, however, I do collect that his notion of the 
phaenomena of the universe is v/hat I have stated. The 
Deity works unseen, if we may use such language, and per- 
haps I may, as Job did, or he v/ho wrote the book of Job. 
"In him we live and move and are," said St. Paul to the 
Athenians, and to show his bearers that this was no new 
doctrine, he quoted the Greek poets. One of these poets 
was the Stoic Cleanthes, whose noble hymn to Zeus or God 
is an elevated expression of devotion and philosophy. It 
deprives Nature of her power and puts her under the im- 
mediate government of the Deity. 

"Thee all this heaven, which whirls around the earth, 
Obeys and willing follows where thou leadest.— 
Without thee, God, nothing is done on earth, 
Nor in the aethereal realms, nor in the sea, 
Save what the wicked through their folly do." 

Antoninus' conviction of the existence of a divine powef 
and government was founded on his perception of the order 
of the uniA^erse. Like Socrates (Xen. Mem., iv. 3, 13, etc.), 
he says that though v\^e cannot see the forms of divine powers 
we know that they exist because we see their works. 

"To those who ask. Where hast thou' seen the gods, or how 
dost thou comprehend that they exist and so worshipest 
them? I answer, in the first place, that they may be seen 
even with the eyes ; in the second place, neither have I seen 
m.y own soul, and yet I honour it. Thus then with respect 
to the gods, from what I constantly experience of their 
power, from this I comprehend that they exist, and I 
venerate them." (xii. 28, and the note. Comp. Aristotle, 
de Mundo, c. 6; Xen. Mem., i. 4, 9; Cicero, TuscuL, i, 28^ 
29; Sto Paul's Epistle to the Romans, i. 19^ 20; and Mon- 


taigne^s "Apology for Ralmond de Sebonde/' ii. C. 12.) 
This is a very old argument which has always had great 
weight with most people, and has appeared sufEcient. It 
does not acquire the least additional strength by being de- 
veloped in a learned treatise. It is as intelligible in its 
simple enunciation as it can be made. If it is rejected, there 
is no arguing with him who rejects it: and i£ it is worked 
out into innumerable particulars, the value of the evidence 
runs the risk of being buried under a mass of words. 

Man being conscious that he is a spiritual power or in- 
tellectual power, or that he has such a power, in whatever 
way he conceives that he has it — for I wish simply to state 
a fact — from this power which he has in himself, he is led, 
as Antoninus says, to believe that there is a greater power, 
which as the old Stoics tell us, pervades the whole universe 
as the intellect (voD?) pervades man. (Compare Epictetus' 
Discourses, i. 14; and "Voltaire a Mad^ Necker," vol. lxvii. 
p. 278, ed. Lequien.) 

God exists then, but what do we know of his Nature? 
Antoninus says that the soul of man is an efflux from the 
divinity. We have bodies like animals, but we have reason, 
intelligence as the gods. Animals have life {(po/7j), and what 
we call instincts or natural principles of action: but the 
rational animal man alone has a rational, intelligent soul 
{(pu^ij XopxTJj vospdy Antoninus insists on this continually : God 
is in man,® and so we mxust constantly attend to the divinity 
within us, for it is only in this way that we can have any 
knowledge of the nature of God. The human soul is in a 
sense a portion of the divinity; and the soul alone has any 
communication with the Deity, for as he says (xii. 2) : 
"With his intellectual part alone God touches the intelligence 
only which has flowed and been derived from himself into 
these bodies." In fact he says that which is hidden within 
a man is life, that is the man himself. All the rest is vesture, 
covering, organs, instrument, which the living man, the real 
man, uses for the purpose of his present existence. The air 
is universally diffused for him who is able to respire, and so 
for him who is willing to partake of it the intelligent power, 

^Comp. Ep. to the Corinthians, i. 3, 17, and James iv. 8, "Draw nigb 

to God and he will draw nigh to you." 


which holds within it all things, is diffused as wide and free 
as the air. (viii. 54.) It is by living a divine life that man 
approaches to a knowledge of the divinity. It is by following 
the divinity within, dat/x<ov or 6s6? as Antoninus calls it, that 
man comes nearest to the Deity, the supreme good, for man 
can never attain to perfect agreement with his internal guide 
(to ■^ysfiovr/.6>). ''Live with the gods. And he does live with 
the gods who constantly shows to them that his own soul is 
satisfied with that which is assigned to him, and that it does 
all the daem^on (^daqj.iov') wishes, which Zeus hath given to 
every man for his guardian and guide, a portion of himself. 
And this daemon is every man's understanding and reason." 
(v. 27). ^ ^ 

There is in man, that is in the reason, the intelligence, a 
superior faculty which if it is exercised rules all the rest. 
This is the ruling faculty {rb ^^e/jiovtxdv) which Cicero (De 
Natura Deorum, 11. 11) renders by the Latin word Princi- 
patus, "to which nothing can or ought to be superior." Anto- 
ninus often uses this term, and others which are equivalent. 
He names it (vii. 64) "the governing intelligence." The 
governing faculty is the master of the soul. (v. 26.) A 
man must reverence only his ruling faculty and the divinity 
within him. As we must reverence that which is supreme 
in the universe, so we must reverence that which is supreme 
in ourselves, and this is that which is of like kind with that 
which is supreme in the universe, (v. 21.) So, as Plotinus 
says, the soul of man can only know the divine, so far as it 
knows itself. In one passage (xi. 19) Antoninus speaks of 
a man's condemnation of himself, when the diviner part 
within him has been ovcrpov/ered and yields to the less hon- 
ourable and to the perishable part, the body, and its gross 
pleasures. In a word, the views of Antoninus on this mat- 
ter, however his expressions may vary, are exactly what 
f^ishop Butler expresses, when he speaks of "the natural 
supremacy of reflection or conscience/' of the faculty "which 
surveys, approves or disapproves the several affections of 
our mind and actions of our lives." 

Much matter might be collected from Antoninus on the 
notion of the universe being one animated Being. But all 
that he says amounts to no more, as Schultz remarks, than 


this: the soul of man is most intimately united to his body 
and together they make one animal, which we call man; so 
the Deity is most intimately united to the world or the ma- 
terial universe, and together they form one whole. But 
Antoninus did not view God and the material universe as 
the same, any more than he viewed the body and soul of man 
as one. Antoninus has no speculations on the absolute 
nature of the deity. It was not his fashion to waste his time 
on what man cannot understand.'^ He v/as satisfied that 
God exists, that he governs all things, that man can only 
have an imperfect knowledge of his nature, and he must 
attain this imperfect knowledge by reverencing the divinity 
which is within him, and keeping it pure. 

From all that has been said it follows that the universe is 
administered by the Providence of God {jtpovoia^) and that all 
things are wisely ordered. There are passages in which 
Antoninus expresses doubts, or states different possible 
theories of the constitution and government of the universe, 
but he always recurs to his fundamental principle, that if 
we admit the existence of a Deity, we must also admit that 
he orders al^ things wisely and well. (iv. 27; vi. i; ix. 28; 
XII. 5, and many other passages.) Epictetus says (i. 6) that 
we can discern the providence which rules the world, if we 
possess two things, the pov/er of seeing all that happens with 
respect to each thing, and a grateful disposition. 

But if all things are wisely ordered, how is the world so 
full of what we call evil, physical and moral? If instead of 
saying that there is evil in the world, we use the expression 
which I have used, "what we call evil," we have partly anti- 
cipated the emperor's answer. We see and feel and know 
imperfectly very few things in the few years that we live, 
and all the knowledge and all the experience of all the human 
race is positive ignorance of the whole, which is infinite. 
Now as our reason teaches us that everything is in some 
way related to and connected with every other thing, all 
notion of evil as being in the universe of things is a contra- 
diction, for if the whole comes from and is governed by an 
intelligent being, it is impossible to conceive anything in 

^"God who is infinitely beyond the reach of our narrow capacities.'* 
Locke, "Essay concerning Human Understanding." jvj., chap. 17. 


it which tends to the evil or destruction of the whole. 
(viii. 55; X. 6.) Everything is in constant mutation, and 
yet the whole subsists. We might imagine the solar system 
resolved into its elemental parts, and yet the whole would 
still subsist "ever young and perfect." 

All things, all form.s, are dissolved and new forms appear. 
All living things undergo the change which we call death. 
If we call death an evil, then all change is an evil. Living 
beings also suffer pain, and man suffers most of all, for he 
suffers both in and by his body and by his intelligent part. 
Men suffer also from one another, and perhaps the largest 
part of human suffering comes to man from those whom he 
calls his brothers. Antoninus says (viii. 55), "Generally, 
wickedness does no harm at all to the universe; and par- 
ticularly, the wickedness [of one man] does no harm to an- 
other. It is only harmful to him who has it in his power to 
be released from it as soon as he shall choose." The first 
part of this is perfectly consistent with the doctrine that the 
whole can sustain no evil or harm. The second part must 
be explained by the Stoic principle that there is no evil in 
anything which is not in our power. What wrong we suffer 
from another is his evil, not ours. But this is an admission 
that there is evil in a sort, for he who does wrong does evil, 
and if others can endure the wrong, still there is evil in the 
wrong-doer. Antoninus (xi. 18) gives many excellent pre- 
cepts with respect to wrongs and injuries, and his precepts 
are practical. He teaches us to bear what we cannot avoid, 
and his lessons may be just as useful to him who denies the 
being and the government of God as to him who believes in 
both. There is no direct answer in Antoninus to the objec- 
tions which may be made to the existence and providence of 
God because of the moral disorder and suffering which are 
in the world, except this answer which he makes in reply 
to the supposition that even the best men may be extinguished 
by death. He says if it is so, we may be sure that if it 
ought to have been otherwise, the gods would have ordered 
it otherwise, (xii. 5.) His conviction of the wisdom which 
we may observe in the government of the world is too strong 
to be disturbed by any apparent irregularities in the order 
of things. That these disorders exist is a fact, and those 


who would conclude from them against the being and govern- 
ment of God conclude too hastily. We all admit that there 
is an order in the material world, a Nature, in thQ sense in 
which that word has been explained, a constitution (xaraaxeu^) 
what we call a system, a relation of parts to one another and 
a fitness of the whole for something. So in the constitution 
of plants and of animals there is an order, a fitness for some 
end. Sometimes the order, as we conceive it, is interrupted 
and the end, as we conceive it, is not attained. The seed, 
the plant or the animal sometimes perishes before it has 
passed through all its changes and done all its uses. It is 
according to Nature, that is, a fixed order, for some t6 
perish early and for others to do all their uses and leave 
successors to take their place. So man has a corporeal and 
intellectual and moral constitution fit for certain uses, and 
on the whole man performs these uses, dies and leaves other 
men in his place. So society exists, and a social state is 
manifestly the Natural State of man, the state for which his 
Nature fits him ; and society amidst innumerable irregularities 
and disorders still subsists ; and perhaps we may say that the 
history of the past and our present knowledge give us a 
reasonable hope that its disorders will diminish, and that 
order, its governing principle, may be more firmly established. 
As order then, a fixed order, we may say, subject to devia- 
tions real or apparent, must be admitted to exist in the whole 
Nature of things, that which we call disorder or evil as it 
seems to us, does not in any way alter the fact of the general 
constitution of things having a Nature or fixed order. No- 
body will conclude from the existence of disorder that ordet 
is not the rule, for the existence of order both physical and 
moral is proved by daily experience and all past experience. 
We cannot conceive how the order of the universe is main* 
tained : we cannot even conceive how our own life from day 
to day is continued, nor how we perform the simplest move- 
ments of the body, nor how we grow and think and act^ \ 
though we know many of the conditions which are necessary 
for all these functions. Knowing nothing then of the unseen 
power which acts in ourselves except by what is done, we 
know nothing of the power which acts through what we call 
all time and all space; but seeing that there is a Nature or 


fixed order in all things known to us, it is conformable to 
the nature of our minds to believe that this universal Nature 
has a cause which operates continually, and that we are 
totally unable to speculate on the reason of any of those dis- 
orders or evils which we perceive. This I believe is the 
answer which may be collected from all that Antoninus has 

The origin of evil is an old question. Achilles tells Priam 
(Iliad, 24, 527) that Zeus has two casks, one filled with good 
things, and the other with bad, and that he gives to men out 
of each according to his pleasure; and so we must be con- 
tent, for we cannot alter the will of Zeus. One of the Greek 
commentators asks how must we reconcile this doctrine with 
what we find in the first book of the Odyssey, where the king 
of the gods says. Men say that evil comes to them from us, 
but they bring it on themselves through their own folly. 
The answer is plain enough even to the Greek commen- 
tator. The poets make both Achilles and Zeus speak ap- 
propriately to their several characters. Indeed Zeus says 
plainly that men do attribute their sufferings to the gods, 
but they do it falsely, for they are the cause of their own 

Epictetus In his Enchiridion (c. 2*]) makes short work of 
the question of evil. He says, *'As a mark is not set up for 
the purpose of missing it, so neither does the nature of evil 
exist in the Universe." This will appear obscure enough 
to those who are not acquainted with Epictetus, but he al- 
ways knows what he is talking about. We do not set up a 
mark in order to miss it, though we may miss it. God, whose 
existence Epictetus assumes, has not ordered all things so 
that his purpose shall fail. Whatever there may be of what 
we call evil, the Nature of evil, as he expresses it, does not 
exist; that is, evil is not a part of the constitution or nature 
of Things. If there were a principle of evil {^pxn) in the 
constitution of things, evil would no longer be evil, as Sim- 
plicius argues, but evil would be good. Simplicius (c. 34, 

® Cleanthes says in his hymn : 

"For all things good 
So that. One everlas 

See Bishop Butler's Sermons. Sermon XV. "Upon the Ignorance of Man " 

"For all things good and bad to One thou formest. 
So that. One everlasting reason governs all." 


[27] ) has a long and curious discourse on this text of Epic- 
tetus, and it is amusing and instructive. 

One passage more will conclude this matter. It contains 
all that the emperor could say (11. 11) : "To go from among 
men, if there are gods, is not a thing to be afraid of, for the 
gods will not involve thee in evil; but if indeed they do not 
exist, or if they have no concern about human affairs, what 
is it to me to live in a universe devoid of gods or devoid of 
providence ? But in truth they do exist, and they do care for 
human things, and they have put all the means in man's power 
to enable him. not to fall into real evils. And as to the rest, 
if there was anything evil, they would have provided for 
this also, that it should be altogether in a man's power not 
to fall into it. But that which does not make a man worse, 
how can it make a man's life worse? But neither through 
ignorance nor having the knowledge, but not the power to 
guard against or correct these things, is it possible that the 
nature of the Universe has overlooked them; nor is it pos- 
sible that it has made so great a mistake, either through want 
of power or want of skill, that good and evil should happen 
indiscriminately to the good and the bad. But death cer- 
tainly and life, honour and dishonour, pain and pleasure, all 
these things equally happen to good and bad men, being 
things which make us neither better nor worse. Therefore 
they are neither good nor evil." 

The Ethical part of Antoninus' Philosophy follows from 
his general principles. The end of all his philosophy is to 
live conformably to Nature, both a man's own nature and 
the nature of the Universe. Bishop Butler has explained 
what the Greek philosophers meant when they spoke of living 
according to Nature, and he says that when it is explained, 
as he has explained it and as they understood it, it is "a. man- 
ner of speaking not loose and undeterminate, but clear and 
distinct, strictly just and true." To live according to Nature 
is to live according to a man's whole nature, not according 
to a part of it, and to reverence the divinity within him as 
the governor of all his actions. "To the rational animal the 
same act is according to nature and according to reason."^ 

®This is what Juvenal means when he says (xiv, 321)— 

"Nunquam aUud Natura aliud Sapientia dicit." 


ftnr. II.) That which is done contrary to reason is also an 
act contrary to nature, to the whole nature, though it is cer- 
tainly conformable to some part of man's nature, or it could 
not be done. Man is made for action, not for idleness of 
pleasure. As plants and animals do the uses of their nature, 
so man must do his. (v. i.) 

Man must also live conformably to the universal nature, 
conformably to the nature of all things of which he is one; 
and as a citizen of a political community he must direct his 
life and actions with reference to those among whom, and 
for whom, among other purposes, he liveSo^'* A man must not 
retire into solitude and cut himself off from his fellow men. 
He must be ever active to do his part in the great whole. 
■A.11 men are his kin, not only in blood, but still more by par- 
ticipating in the same intelligence and by being a portion of 
the same divinity. A man cannot really be injured by his 
"brethren, for no act of theirs can make him bad, and he must 
not be angry with them nor hate them: "For we are made 
for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the 
rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one an- 
other then is contrary to nature ; and it is acting against one 
another to be vexed and to turn away." (ii. i.) 

Further he says: "Take pleasure in one thing and rest in 
it, in passing from one social act to another social act, think- 
ing of God." (vi. 7.) Again: "Love mankind. Follow 
God." (vii. 31.) It is the characteristic of the rational 
soul for a man to love his neighbour, (xi. i.) Antoninus 
teaches in various passages the forgiveness of injuries, and 
we know that he also practised what he taught. Bishop 
Butler remarks that "this divine precept to forgive injuries 
and to love our enemies, though to be met with in Gentile 
moralists, yet is in a peculiar sense a precept of Christianity, 
as our Saviour has insisted more upon it than on any other 
single virtue," The practice of this precept is the most diffi- 
cult of all virtues. Antoninus often enforces it and gives us 
aid towards following it. When we are injured, we feel 
anger and resentment, and the feeling is natural, just and 
useful for the conservation of society. It is useful that 
WK)ng-doers should feel the natural consequences of thek 
" See vm. 52 : and Persius, iii. 66, 


actions, among which is the disapprobation of society and 
the resentment of him who is wronged. But revenge, in the 
proper sense of that word, must not be practised. "The best 
way of avenging thyself," says the emperor, "is not to be- 
come like the wrong-doer." It is plain by this that he does 
not mean that we should in any case practise revenge; but 
he says to those who talk of revenging wrongs, Be not like 
him who has done the wrong. Socrates in the Crito (c. lo) 
says the same in other words, and St. Paul (Ep. to the 
Romans, xii. 17). "When a man has done thee any wrong, 
immediately consider with what opinion about good or evil 
he has done wrong. For when thou hast seen this, thou 
wilt pity him and wilt neither wonder nor be angry," (vii. 
26.) Antoninus would not deny that wrong naturally pro- 
duces the feeling of anger and resentment, for this is im- 
plied in the recommendation to reflect on the nature of the 
man's mind who has done the wrong, and then you will have 
pity instead of resentment: and so it comes to the same as 
St. Paul's advice to be angry and sin not; which, as Butler 
well explains it, is not a recommendation to be angry, which 
nobody needs, for anger is a natural passion, but it is a 
warning against allowing anger to lead us into sin. In short 
the emperor's doctrine about wrongful acts is this: wrong- 
doers do not know what good and bad are: they offend out 
of ignorance, and in the sense of the Stoics this is true. 
Though this kind of ignorance will never be admitted as a 
legal excuse, and ought not to be admitted as a full excuse 
in any way by society, there may be grievous injuries, such 
as it is in a man's povN^er to forgive without harm to society; 
and if he forgives because he sees that his enemies know not 
what they do, he is acting in the spirit of the sublim.e prayer, 
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." 

The emperor's moral philosophy was not a feeble, narrow 
system, w^hich teaches a man to look directly to his own hap- 
piness, though a man's happiness or tranquillity is indirectly 
promoted by living as he ought to do. A man must live 
conformably to the universal nature, which means, as the 
emperor explains it in many passages, that a man's actions 
must be conformable to his true relations to all other human 
beings, both as a citizen of a political community and as a 


member of the whole human family. This implies, and he 
often expresses it in the most forcible language, that a man's 
words and actions, so far as they affect others, must be 
measured by a fixed rule, which is their consistency with 
the conservation and the interests of the particular society 
of which he is a memberj and of the whole human race. To 
live conformably to such a rule, a man must use his rational 
faculties in order to discern clearly the consequences and 
full effect of all his actions and of the actions of others: he 
must not live a life of contemplation and reflection only, 
though he must often retire within himself to calm and purify 
his soul by thought, but he must mingle in the work of man 
and be a fellow labourer for the general good. 

A man should have an object or purpose in life, that he may 
direct all his energies to it; of course a good object, (ii. 7.) 
He who has not one object or purpose of life, cannot be one 
and the same all through his life, (xi, 21.) Bacon has a 
remark to the same effect, on the best means of "reducing of 
the mind unto virtue and good estate; which is, the electing 
and propounding unto a man's self good and virtuous ends of 
his life, such as may be in a reasonable sort within his com- 
pass to attain." He is a happy man who has been wise 
enough to do this when he was young and has had the op- 
portunities; but the emperor seeing well that a man cannot 
always be so wise in his youth, encourages himself to do it 
when he can, and not to let life slip away before he has 
begun. He who can propose to himself good and virtuous 
ends of life, and be true to them, cannot fail to live con- 
formably to his own interest and the universal interest, for 
in the nature of things they are one. If a thing is not good 
for the hive, it is not good for the bee. (vi. 54.) 

One passage may end this matter. *Tf the gods have de- 
termined about me and about the things which must happen 
to me, they have determined well, for it is not easy even to 
imagine a deity without forethought; and as to doing me 
harm, why should they have any desire towards that? For 
what advantage would result to them from this or to the 
whole, which is the special object of their providence? But 
if they have not determined about me individually, they have 
certainly determined about the whole at least ; and the things 


which happen by way of sequence in this general arrange- 
ment I ought to accept with pleasure and to be content with 
them. But if they determine about nothing — which it is 
wicked to believe, or if we do believe it, let us neither slacri- 
fice nor pray nor swear by them nor do anything else which 
we do as if the gods were present and lived with us — ^but if 
however the gods determine about none of the things which 
concern us, I am able to determine about myself, and I can 
inquire about that which is useful; and that is useful to 
every man which is conformable to his own constitution 
(^xaraffxeuTj) and nature. But my nature is rational and social ; 
and my city and country, so far as I am Antoninus, is Rome ; 
but so far as I am a, it is the world. The things then 
which are useful to these cities are alone useful to me." 
(VI. 44.) 

It would be tedious, and it is not necessary to state the 
emperor's opinions on all the ways in which a man may 
profitably use his understanding towards perfecting himself 
in practical virtue. The passages to this purpose are in all 
parts of his book, but as they are in no order or connection, 
a man must use the book a long time before he will find out 
all that is in it. A few words may be added here. If we 
analyze all other things, we find how insufficient they are for 
human life, and how truly worthless many of them are. 
Virtue alone is indivisible, one, and perfectly satisfying. 
The notion of Virtue cannot be considered vague or un- 
settled, because a man may find it difficult to explain the no- 
tion fully to himself or to expound it to others in such a 
way as to prevent cavilling. Virtue is a whole, and no more 
consists of parts than man's intelligence does, and yet we 
speak of various intellectual faculties as a convenient way of 
expressing the various powers which man's intellect shows 
by his works. In the same way we may speak of various 
virtues or parts of virtue, in a practical sense, for the pur- 
pose of showing what particular virtues we ought to practise 
in order to the exercise of the whole of virtue, that is, as 
much as man's nature is capable of. 

The prime principle in man's constitution is social. The 
jnext in order is not to yield to the persuasions oi the body, 
when they are not conformable to the rational principle, 


which must govern. The third is freedom from error and 
from deception. "Let then the ruling principle holding fast 
to these things go straight on and it has what is its own." 
(vii. 55.) The emperor selects justice as the virtue which 
is the basis of all the rest (x. 11), and this had been said 
■long before his time. 

It is true that all people have some notion of what is 
meant by justice as a disposition of the mind, and some no- 
tion about acting in conformity to this disposition; but ex- 
perience shovv^s that men's notions about justice are as con- 
fused as their actions are inconsistent with the true notion 
of justice. The emperor's notion of justice is clear enough, 
but not practical enough for all mankind. "Let there be 
freedom from perturbations with respect to the things which 
come from the external cause; and let there be justice in 
the things done by virtue of the internal cause, that is, let 
there be movement and action terminating in this, in social 
acts, for this is according to thy nature." (ix. 31.) In an- 
other place (ix. i) he says that "he who acts unjustly acts 
impiously," which follows of course from all that he says in 
various places. He insists on the practice of truth as a 
virtue and as a means to virtue, which no doubt it is: for 
lying even in indifferent things weakens the understanding; 
and lying maliciously is as great a moral offence as a man 
can be guilty of, viewed both as showing an habitual dispo- 
sition, and viewed with respect to consequences. He couples 
the notion of justice with action. A man must not pride 
himself on having some fine notion of justice in his head, 
but he must exhibit his justice in act, like St. James's notion 
of faith. But this is enough. 

The Stoics, and Antoninus among them, call some things 
beautiful (xaXd) and some ugly (aiff/pd), and as they are 
beautiful so they are good, and as they are ugly so they are 
evil or bad. (11. i.) All these things good and evil are in 
our power absolutely, some of the stricter Stoics would say; 
in a manner only, as those who would not depart altogether 
from common sense would say; practically they are to a 
great degree in the power of some persons and in some cir- 
cumstances, but in a small degree only in other persons and 
in other circumstances. The Stoics maintain man's free will 


as to the things which are in his power ; for as to the things 
which are out of his power, free will terminating in action 
is of course excluded by the very terms of the expression. 
I hardly know if we can discover exactly Antoninus* notion 
of the free will of man, nor is the question worth the inquiry. 
What he does mean and does say is intelligible. All the 
things which are not in our power {aTtpoaipera ) are indifferent : 
they are neither good nor bad, morally. Such are life, 
health, wealth, power, disease, poverty and death. Life and 
death are all men's portion. Health, wealth, power, disease 
and poverty happen to men indifferently to the good and to 
the bad; to those who live according to nature and to those 
who do not. ''Life," says the emperor, ''is a warfare and 
a stranger's sojourn, and after fame is oblivion," (ii. 17.) 
[After speaking of those men who have disturbed the world 
and then died, and of the death of philosophers such as 
Heraclitus and Democritus, who was destroyed by lice, and 
of Socrates whom other lice (his enemies) destroyed, he 
says: "What means all this? Thou hast embarked, thou 
hast made the voyage, thou art come to shore; get out. If 
indeed to another life, there is no want of gods, not even 
there. But if to a state without sensation, thou wilt cease 
to be held by pains and pleasures, and to be a slave to the 
vessel which is as much inferior as that which serves it is 
superior: for the one is intelligence and deity; the other is 
earth and corruption." (iii. 3.) It is not death that a man 
should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live ac- 
cording to nature, (xii. i.) Every man should live in such a 
way as to discharge his duty, and to trouble himself about 
nothing else. He should live such a life that he shall always 
be ready for death, and shall depart content when the sum- 
mons comes. For what is death? "A cessation of the im- 
pressions through the senses, and of the pulling of the strings 
which move the appetites and of the discursive movements of 
the thoughts, and of the service to the flesh." (vi. 28.) Death 
is such as generation is, a mystery of nature, (iv. 5.) In an- 
other passage, the exact meaning of which is perhaps doubt- 
ful (ix. 3), he speaks of the child which leaves the womb, and 
so he says the soul at death leaves its envelope. As the 
|:diild is born or comes into life by leaving the v/omb, so the 


soul may on leaving the body pass into another existence 
which is perfect. I am not sure if this is the emperor's 
meaning. Butler compares it with a passage in Strabo (p. 
713), about the Brachmans' notion of death being the birth 
into real life and a happy life to those who have philoso- 
phized; and he thinks that Antoninus may allude to this 

Antoninus' opinion of a future life is nowhere clearly ex- 
pressed. His doctrine of the nature of the soul of necessity 
implies that it does not perish absolutely, for a portion of 
the divinity cannot perish. The opinion is at least as old 
as the time of Epicharmus and Euripides; what comes from 
earth goes back to earth, and what comes from heaven, the 
divinity, returns to him who gave it. But I find nothing 
clear in Antoninus as to the notion of the man existing after 
death so as to be conscious of his sameness with that soul 
which occupied his vessel of clay. He seems to be perplexed 
on this matter, and finally to have rested in this, that God 
or the gods will do whatever is best and consistent with the 
university of things. 

Nor I think does he speak conclusively on another Stoic 
doctrine, which some Stoics practised, the anticipating the 
regular course of nature by a man's own act. The reader 
will find some passages in which this is touched on, and he 
may make of them what he can. But there are passages in 
which the emperor encourages himself to wait for the end 
patiently and with tranquillity; and certainly it is consistent 
with all his best teaching that a man should bear all that falls 
to his lot and do useful acts as long as he lives. He should 
not therefore abridge the time of his usefulness by his own 
act. Whether he contemplates any possible cases in which a 
man should die by his own hand, I cannot tell, and the matter 
is not worth a curious inquiry, for I believe it would not lead 
to any certain result as to his opinion on this point. I do not 
think that Antoninus, who never mentions Seneca, though he 
must have known all about him, would have agreed with 
Seneca when he gives as a reason for suicide, that the eternal 
law, whatever he means, has made nothing better for us than 
this, that it has given us only one way of entering into life 
and many ways of going out of it. The ways of going out 


indeed are many, and that is a good reason for a man taking 
care of himself. 

Happiness was not the direct object of a Stoic's life. 
There is no rule of life contained in the precept that a man 
should pursue his own happiness. Many men think that 
they are seeking happiness when they are only seeking the 
gratification of some particular passion, the strongest that 
they have. The end of a man is, as already explained, to 
live conformably to nature, and he will thus obtain happiness, 
tranquillity of mind and contentment, (iii. 12; viii. i, and 
other places.) As a means of living conformably to nature 
he must study the four chief virtues, each of which has its 
proper sphere: wisdom, or the knowledge of good and evil; 
justice, or the giving to every man his due ; fortitude, or the 
enduring of labour and pain; and temperance, which is 
moderation in all things. By thus living conformably to 
nature the Stoic obtained all that he wished or expected. His 
reward was in his virtuous life, and he was satisfied with 
that. Some Greek poet long ago wrote : 

For virtue only of all human things 

Takes her reward not from the hands of others. 

Virtue herself rewards the toils of virtue. 

Some of the Stoics indeed expressed themselves in very 
arrogant, absurd terms, about the wise man's self sufficiency : 
they elevated him to the rank of a deity. But these were 
only talkers and lecturers, such as those in all ages who 
utter fine words, know little of human affairs, and care only 
for notoriety. Epictetus and Antoninus both by precept and 
example laboured to improve themselves and others; and if 
we discover imperfections in their teaching, we must still 
honour these great men who attempted to show that there 
is in man's nature and in the constitution of things sufficient 
reason for living a virtuous life. It is difficult enough to live 
as we ought to live, difficult even for any man to live in such 
a way as to satisfy himself, if he exercises only in a moderate 
'degree the power of reflecting upon and reviewing his own 
conduct ; and if all men cannot be brought to the same opinions 
in morals and religion, it is at least worth while to give them 
good reasons for as much as they can be persuaded to accept. 


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